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Arson Profile

The National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) has identified the following motives as primary in the behavior of the arsonist:

Revenge. The most common motive, revenge can be directed at a very broad range of targets or a specific individual.

Excitement/Bored. Teenagers looking for something to do sometimes set fires.

Vandalism. Schools are often the target here.

Profit. Insurance fraud is the most common objective in this category.

Crime Concealment. Criminals sometimes turn to arson to burn away evidence that could tie them to a crime.

Experts also argue that relief from psychological pressure is a motivator for many arsonists, either from sexual or non-sexual stressors such as family conflict. This analysis will attempt to present the profile or characteristics of the juvenile and adolescent arsonist in an effort to bring more understanding to this complex behavior and perhaps a character profile that may be used for effective early intervention.

Arson is an expensive and dangerous crime. The United States Fire Administration (USFA, 1997, 1) released the following statistics on arson for 1994-1996:

Arson is the number one cause of all fires (approx. 550,000 in 1994), and the second leading cause of residential f


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