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Understanding The Enemy: Profiles and Motivations of an Arsonist

Kendra Weikman | - For sources, see Editor's note.

Excitement-Motivated Arson

The excitement motivated arsonist is prompted to set fires because he craves excitement that is satisfied by fire setting. This offender rarely intends the fire to harm people.

The type of arsonist included in this category are thrill seekers, attention seekers, sexual prevision and other. Offenders in the 18-30 age group are more prone to use accelerants. Matches and cigarettes are frequently used to ignite vegetation fires.

A small percentage of excitement fires are motivated by sexual perversion. At these crime scenes, the investigator may find ejaculate, fecal deposits, and or pornographic materials. In most cases, this fire setter uses available material and starts small fires.

The typical excitement arsonist is a juvenile or young adult male with 10 or more years of formal education. This offender is generally unemployed single and living with one or both parents. His family tends to be from middle-lower or middle class bracket. In general this offender is sexually inadequate, particularly in heterosexual relationships, serial offenders are common to this category of fire setters.

A history of police contact for nuisance offenses is prevalent with excitement-motivated offenders. The older the offender, the longer t he record.

The distance that the offender lives from the crime scene can be frequently determined by an analysis of th e targets he or she burned. Through target and cluster analysis, the investigator can determine if the offender is mobile.

Some excitement-motivated arsonists do not leave once the fire has started. They prefer to mingle with the crowds who have gathered to watch the fire. The offenders who do leave the scene usually return later and observe the damage and activity of their handiwork.

Next: Revenge-Motivated Arson