Arson hotline reward increased up to $5,000
The West Virginia Arson Hotline Program announced it has increased the reward from $2,500 to “up to $5,000” for any information that leads to the arrest and conviction of anyone who commits the crimes of arson and/or insurance fraud. The increase in reward money was made at the request of the West Virginia State Fire Marshall’s Office and in conjunction with the West Virginia FAIR Plan.
The Arson Hotline program provides a toll-free number to speak with law enforcement investigators about any knowledge they may have concerning a suspicious fire and is completely confidential. The Arson Hotline number is 800-233-3473 (FIRE).
The Arson Hotline Program was set up in the late 1980s and has paid out over $90,000 in rewards to more than 100 different callers. Funding for both the operation and the rewards comes from the West Virginia Essential Property Insurance Association, also known as the West Virginia FAIR Plan. The FAIR Plan is a not-for-profit association that offers a basic, affordable property insurance policy to those West Virginia property owners who have been unable to find such coverage in the voluntary market.
In just the first four months of 2012, the West Virginia State Fire Marshall’s office investigated 305 arson events. During that same time period the Arson Hotline received 55 tips which combined to shed enough light on 22 arsons with the potential for prosecution.
Arson is both a deadly and expensive problem in United States. It not endangers occupants and first responders and negatively impacts the insurance rates paid by every policyholder. According to the National Fire Protection Association in the United States during the period from 1999-2008, arson accounted for 3,410 deaths, more than $7 billion in direct property loss and was the cause in approximately 436,000 structural fires. The Department of Homeland Security, further estimates there may now be over 80 arson fires a day.