Baton Rouge Fire Department notices an increase in arson cases amid pandemic

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BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD)- The Baton Rouge Fire Department is noticing an increase in arson cases in the past three years.

Number of arson cases January through June:

2019- 63

2020-94

2021-87

In the past two weeks at least nine arson cases were reported by BRFD.

In a third of these cases, people were inside the home at the time of the fire. At least one person was killed. fire department spokesperson, Justin Hill says arson is part of the uptick in crime since the start of the pandemic.

The motive behind setting something on fire can be for multiple reasons.

“They may be personal reasons. They may be some mental health issues. They may be some financial gain they are trying to seek,” Hill said.

Hill says BRFD investigators are working hard to crack down on the arsonist.

BRFD averages a 30 percent clearance rate on cases, the national average is 23 percent. They also average a 19 percent arrest rate with the national average is 13 percent.

Some of those cleared without arrest may include culpability, mental illness, counseling for juveniles, or other reasons.

BRFD is providing the following tips to prevent arson:

Keep leaves, firewood, overgrown brush and shrubbery, and other combustibles away from buildings.

· Keep doors and windows locked when a building is unoccupied. Board up abandoned buildings.

· Store all flammable liquids such as; paints, gasoline, and mowers in an approved storage location: locked cabinets, locked storage units, and locked garages (prevent access to kids). Also, keep away from heat sources such as furnaces and any type of heaters.

· Report suspicious activity near houses or other buildings to the local police and support Neighborhood Watch programs.

· If you suspect a child is setting fires, notify the proper authorities. It may not be “just a phase” they are going through. Keep matches and lighters out of reach and out of sight of young children.

· If you know or suspect that an arson crime has been committed, contact your local fire or police department.

Tips can be made to Crime Stoppers 344-7867or directly to Fire Investigators at 225-354-1419

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