Let’s not forget about arson victims

Whether it is a volunteer firefighter being sentenced for starting fires in Sonoma and San Mateo counties or the search for three young suspects wanted for questioning about arson in Santa Monica, every day we hear stories about arson. All across the country, arson is on the rise.


The media often pays too much attention to arson perpetrators rather than the victims of the crime, almost going so far as to label the perpetrator and victim as one and the same, based on an assumption that arson is committed primarily for monetary reasons. This has helped to create a, for lack of a better word, grotesque portrayal of the arson victim. We first need to know who can be an arson victim.


There are many victims in an arson-related crime, including occupants, neighbors and children, not to mention owners and employees if the building is a business, warehouse or factory. What about the firefighters who are risking their lives to stop these fires? The list of victims is a long and exhausting one.


Unfortunately, anyone can be a victim of arson, as any type of residency or building is a potential target. It could be a house, dorm or apartment. Race, income, age or gender does not matter. We are all arson victims. That doesn’t leave a good taste in your mouth, does it?


Any arson-related crime is sure to leave long-lasting financial and emotional effects. While property loss is to be expected, there can also be physical, psychological injuries (the loss of a long-time family home, for instance) and even death. The victim will often have to leave his or her home and, in the process, removing any belongings that can be removed. It is a roller coaster of tangible and intangible loss. At first, the victim may think the fire was accidental, and so will not contact victim assistance agencies.


While there may be private victim assistance projects, public victim assistance projects or public victim compensation boards, the needs of an arson victim require different support structures than other crime victims. The reason for this is the mysterious circumstances surrounding arson. Oftentimes, it is tough to nail down a suspect. When a suspect is actually brought in, his or her motives may be hazy. Anyone can be an arsonist. There is no clear-cut profile. Since there is no clear-cut profile, anyone can be a victim. Mystery, for the most part, is never good for any victim.


At John Michael Agosti & Associates, we know that any of us can be the victim of arson and it is very important to solve an arson-related crime in a time-efficient manner. If you are in the Illinois area, contact our team today!


*Image courtesy of petervick167