Arson Spirals in Michigan
Arson is one of the fastest rising crimes in Michigan, according to Detective Lieutenant Myron Franks of the Fire Marshal Division, Department of State Police, speaking before 120 municipal fire inspectors at Michigan State University on September 23.
Arson offenses in Michigan’s urban areas increased by more than 20 percent in 1975 alone, Franks said, adding that he anticipated a further increase this year.
Arson throughout the entire state increased by more than 14 percent in 1975, he said, but in rural areas was down a bit, less than 1 percent. Twenty of 62 fire deaths in Detroit so far this year have been murder by arson, he added.
Franks underscored the need for a workable arson control program in each jurisdiction of the state. He noted that the use of police/fire investigation teams in Lansing and Grand Rapids is proving highly successful. He had commendation, too, for the Michigan’s Arson Control Program which is funded by a grant from the Michigan Association of Insurance Companies and is administered by the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
He said that the statewide program which offers up to a $1000 reward for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of an arsonist has attracted 60 tips in its one-year history. One tip led to the arrest of seven, another led to the prevention of contemplated arson, and one caller whose report led to the arrest of both the “torch” and the property owner, declined any reward.
Franks said that publicity given the program has served as an arson deterrent, stopping a series of fires in Detroit and another series in Van Buren County.