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OPINION|Phil Paleologos: Form an Arson Watch

Burning matchstick against black background
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It looks like we’re getting burnt by an arsonist. With three suspicious fires in 24 hours and a total of six in the past month, one has to ask, are they accidental or arson? And if it is arson, what’s motivating the person; vandalism, excitement, revenge, profit or gang related? Studies of characteristics of arsonists have examined the age, sex, race, education level and previous criminal histories of arsonist. They found that most arsonists were white males around age 27, with a 10th grade level education, and that almost all had prior arrests and convictions. I haven’t called it serial arson because it’s defined as an offense committed by fire setters who lit three or more fires with a significant cooling off period between fires.

That said, I believe the South Coast should create an “Arson Watch Program” with local fire, law, political, business, church, community groups and especially insurance providers. Insurance companies can send us experts to educate us about recognizing and reporting unusual activities. A community Arson Watch Program can help put the neighbor back into neighborhood by creating a stronger sense of cooperation. I think it will bring fire, law enforcement and local citizens together to help reduce the crime of arson.

Editor’s Note: Phil Paleologos is the morning talk show host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6am-10am. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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