Fire - when misused
According to the proverb, fire is a good servant but a bad master. However, fire
employed by a bad man, can be a bad servant.
Despite the often brilliant forensic analyses into the criminal use of fire, called
arson, such cases are probably involved in the highest percentage of all unsolved
crimes. It needs to be understood, though, that arson is not always the primary crime but
may be used to conceal or camouflage another crime, such as robbery or murder.
At times when the national economy is experiencing a downturn, and businesses are
in danger of bankruptcy, there tends to be a rash of suspicious insurance claims
made after fires have damaged or destroyed property. Destruction of business records,
to avoid audits or evade taxation, or even to eliminate a competitor by torching his
business increase at such times. However, detective work into the financial status
of affected businesses is given first priority and has a good rate of success in
solving criminal cases.
Another category of criminal has a mental or emotional basis for committing arson
and it has three branches. The first is revenge, and may be a disgruntled
employee, or customer, or a spurned lover. Then there are the thrill seekers, usually
a group of youths under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The third of these
emotionally-motivated types is the pyromaniac, and is a particular danger to everyone
There is, however, a potential firebug who is not considered to be a criminal,
yet may prove just as disastrous. This is the ordinary person who thoughtlessly
throws his lighted cigarette butt from the window of his car instead of using its
ashtray. That ought to be treated as a crime and incur a substantial penalty!
Smouldering cigarette butts can unnecessarily disrupt services by triggering fire
alarms and warning systems but have also been blamed for bushfires resulting in
major property damage and deaths.