Arson: America's Most Costly Crime

Archive Report

Extent of the Problem

Mounting Arson Losses Across the Nation

In a scene from the 1981 movie “Body Heat,” a professional arsonist, played by actor Mickey Rourke, explains what is involved in clandestinely setting fire to a building. “You gotta get in. You gotta get out. You gotta pick the right spot, the right time,” the character says, “and you gotta try to not get famous while you're in the act….I'll tell you something…this arson is serious crime.”

Arson is, indeed, a serious crime in this country. “The United States has the highest rate of arson in the world,” Sen. John Glenn, D-Ohio, said in a speech on the Senate floor Sept. 22. “Arson is this nation's fastest-growing crime, quadrupling during the last decade and increasing tenfold ...

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