Depression Causes Increase in Indiana Fires
“The great increase of arson, fraudulent claims and suspicious fires during the last three years is a direct result of the present depression,” says Alfred Hogston, State Fire Marshal of Indiana, in a report covering the activities of the Arson Division of his department from January 1 to July 1 of this year. “Statistics show that as business and property values decrease arson and fraudulent claims increase. At the present time perhaps 75% of the property in the state is over-insured. This condition coupled with the fact that few business enterprises are prospering while many are losing money, presents a grave situation.
During the period covered in the report the State Fire Marshal Department investigated 164 fires, reinvestigated 10 fires, secured 14 confessions, inside 23 arrests and obtained 24 convictions.
For the first six months of 1931 the department investigated 178 cases and secured 19 convictions. Thus the department investigated 8% fewer cases during the first six months of 1932 than it did in the first six months ot 1931 but obtained 26% more convictions.
Of the cases investigated the first six months of this year, 77 were rural fires, 32 being barn fires, and 87 were urban fires, 5 being for burning automobiles.
During this same period, besides convictions for arson, the department in many cases prevented the collection of padded and fraudulent claims.