Arson Statistics

Latest Arson Statistics from the ATAC – A Texas Advisory Council on Arson website.



*   National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Data: According to the NFPA, arsonists set fires that destroyed $663 million worth of property in 2013, down 62 percent from $1,061 million in 2012. These include fires at factories, residential buildings and churches and in motor vehicle and other types of vehicles.

*   There were 10,500 vehicle arsons in 2013, compared with 12,500 in 2012, one of which produced $400 million in losses from a fire set aboard a U.S. submarine. Excluding the submarine loss, intentionally set vehicle fires in 2012 caused $88 million in losses, higher than the 2013 total of $86 million.

*   In 2013 there were 22,500 intentionally set structure fires, down 13.5 percent from 2012 and down 38.4 percent from 36,500 in 2004. Arsons accounted for 4 percent of all structure fires in 2013. These figures do not count suspicious fires.

*   In 2013 intentionally set structure fires cost $577 million in property damage, about the same as the $581 million in 2012.

*   The number of civilians killed in arson fires in buildings in 2013 totaled 150, down 16.7 percent from 2012.

*   FBI Data: According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program[2], law enforcement agencies in the United States reported 49,191 arson offenses in 2011, down 4.7 percent from 51,620 offenses in 2010. Only the fires that investigators have determined to have been willfully set—not fires labeled as suspicious or of unknown origin—are included in the FBI report.

*   Arsons involving structures (residential, storage, public, etc.) accounted for 45.9 percent of the total number of arson offenses. Mobile property—composed of motor vehicles, trailers and the like—accounted for 23.9 percent of arsons. The rest were arsons involving other types of property.

*    According to the FBI, the rate of arson was 18.2 offenses for every 100,000 inhabitants of the United States in 2011. Arson rates were highest in cities with populations of 250,000 to 500,000, at 38.6 per 100,000 inhabitants. This compares with 20.7 in all cities. The arson rate for suburban areas was 12.8 per 100,000 inhabitants.

*   In 2011 the average loss value per arson offense was $13,196. For structures, arson damages were $23,918 on average and $6,580 for motor vehicles. Arsons of industrial and manufacturing structures resulted in the highest average dollar losses—$68,349 per arson.

*   Arson in the nation’s cities fell 4.0 percent in 2011 from 2010. The number of arson incidents in 2011 fell fastest in the nation’s largest cities, those with a million inhabitants or more where arson incidents were down 7.4 percent. The number of arson incidents in small cities with 25,000 to 49,999 people fell 6.7 percent at the same time. In metropolitan counties, arson offenses fell 5.9 percent from 2010 to 2011, while arson offenses fell 9.3 percent in nonmetropolitan counties. In suburban areas arson offenses fell 6.7 percent.

*   Of all major crimes, arson has one of the lowest clearance rates (either by arresting the offender or closing the case when there is evidence to identify an offender but the person cannot be prosecuted for technical reasons). The national rate in 2011 was 19.9 percent.

*   Arson clearances involving juveniles (under the age of 18) were 32.7 percent in 2011.

*   Vandalism is the leading cause of arson. An Insurance Research Council study indicates that only 14 percent of arson suspects are motivated by a desire to defraud an insurance company, but other studies find the percentage is higher. Between 20 and 25 percent of arson fires are drug-related.

*   Children are responsible for more than one-third of the arson fires set in the United States.