Types of Arson

By Shaunta Alburger
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Arson is the purposeful lighting of fires that cause damage to the environment, property and people. Investigators categorize arsonists based on the reason for their crimes. They categorize the crimes themselves based on frequency and the time that passes between fires.

Arson Offender Types: Behavioral

Some arson is perpetrated by a person operating on an impulse. Pathological fire starters are called pyromaniacs. They have a psychological disorder that compels them to start fires for no other reason than satisfying their impulse. Other fire starters light fires for reasons of revenge, a desire to vandalize, to cover up a crime or simply for the excitement caused by the fire.

Arson Offender Types: Economic

Other arsonists light fires for monetary reasons. These people may start a fire to fraudulently collect on an insurance claim. For instance, a business owner may light fire to a failing restaurant for the purpose of getting enough money out of the insurance to start over with a new business.

Types of Arson: Single, Double or Triple

Single, double or triple arson refers to one, two or three fires being set in different locations with no cooling-off period in between. For instance, two houses being set on fire in the same place by the same suspected arsonist would be considered a double arson. A mass arson refers to more than one fire being set at the same location at the same time, and a spree indicates three or more fires set in different locations with no cooling-off period.

Types of Arson: Serial

Serial arson refers to three or more incidents of arson taking place in different locations with a cooling-off period in between. Serial arson is most likely to be perpetrated by a pyromaniac who is compelled to light the fires and may happen on a schedule or after a triggering event.