In the past arson was considered a crime committed by a person who got their jollies watching a house burn. Lately, arson investigators are concerned that homeowners searching for a way to escape from mortgages they canâ€™t pay may also be a motive for this crime.
The FBI reports that arson grew 4% in suburbs and 2.2% in cities from 2005 to 2006. The 2007 numbers arenâ€™t out yet. In most cases, consumer pressure and state laws require speedy settlements, which means insurance companies are quick to pay up and slower to complete complex arson investigations.
Recently two arson fires at homes in Taylors Falls were torched and attempts to start two other houses on fire were found. In all four cases, these homes were up for sale and not occupied. There is a $2,000 reward offered in the Taylors Falls arson cases for information that leads to the conviction of those responsible.
Minnesotaâ€™s annual statistics show that arson takes place every 4.5 hours. Arson is the third-leading cause of fires in Minnesota â€” after cooking and heating. In 2003, arsonists cost Minnesotans about $2.3 million; 278 residential arson fires represented 81 percent of that dollar amount. In the fifteen years leading up to 2003, arson fires took the lives of 38 Minnesotans.