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The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program defines arson as any willful or malicious burning or attempting to burn, with or without intent to defraud, a dwelling house, public building, motor vehicle or aircraft, personal property of another, etc.
Only the fires that investigation determined to have been willfully set—not fires labeled as suspicious or of unknown origin—are included in this arson data collection. Points to consider regarding arson statistics include:
- This data collection does not include any estimates for arson because the degree of reporting arson offenses varies from agency to agency. Because of this unevenness of reporting, arson offenses are excluded from Tables 1-7, all of which contain offense estimations. In addition, Metropolitan Statistical Area, state, and national offense rates per 100,000 inhabitants (found in Tables 1, 2, and 4-6) do not include arson data.
- Arson rates are calculated based upon data received from all law enforcement agencies that provide the UCR Program with data for 12 complete months and are presented in
Arson Table 1.
The number of arsons reported by individual law enforcement agencies is available in Tables 8-11, arson trend data (indicating a year-to-year change) are in Tables 12-15, and arson clearance data (crimes solved) can be found in Arson Table 2 and Tables 25-28.
- In 2009, 14,957 law enforcement agencies (providing 1-12 months of arson data) reported 58,871 arsons. Of those agencies, 14,693 provided expanded offense data regarding 51,389 arsons.
- Arsons involving structures (e.g., residential, storage, public, etc.) accounted for 44.5 percent of the total number of arson offenses. Mobile property was involved in 28.4 percent of arsons, and other types of property (such as crops, timber, fences, etc.) accounted for 27.1 percent of reported arsons.
- The average dollar loss due to arson was $17,411.
- Arsons of industrial/manufacturing structures resulted in the highest average dollar losses (an average of $93,287 per arson).
- In 2009, arson offenses decreased 10.8 percent when compared with arson data reported in 2008. (See Table 12.)
- Nationwide, the rate of arson was 21.3 offenses for every 100,000 inhabitants.
Expanded arson data
Expanded offense data are the details of the various offenses that the program collects beyond the count of how many crimes law enforcement agencies report. These details may include the type of weapons used in a crime, type or value of items stolen, and so forth. In addition, expanded data include trends (for example, 2-year comparisons) and rates per 100,000 inhabitants.
Expanded information regarding arson is available in the following tables:
Trends (2-year): Tables 12, 13, 14, and 15
Property types: Table 15
Arson Table 1, "Arson Rate, by Population Group, 2009"
Arson Table 2, "Arson, by Type of Property, 2009"