MCFRS News Release

Stolen Burned Vehicle Task Force

Vehicle Arson: Who Pays for this Crime?

Arson Awareness Week May 6-12, 2007

The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, Fire and Explosives Investigation (FEI) Section and the Montgomery County Department of Police, Centralized Auto Theft (CAT) Section created the Stolen Burned Vehicle Task Force in an effort to combat Vehicle Theft and Arson to vehicles. The Task Force was established 10 years ago, in 1997, in response to the increased stolen and burned vehicles reported in Montgomery County. May 6 through May 12, 2007 is National Arson Awareness Week. This year's theme is 'Vehicle Arson: Who Pays for this Crime?'

The Montgomery County Fire/Explosive Investigations is currently investigating a rash of early morning auto fires that took place between the hours of mid-night to 5AM occurring on March 6, 2007, in the Rockville area and several weeks later on April 23, 2007 in the Silver Spring area. Fire Investigators believe the fires are related and may have been started by the same person or group of persons. The fires occurred predominately in residential neighborhoods involving vehicles that were parked on the street. On both occasions, three to four vehicles were burned all within close proximity of each other in a relatively short period of time. The fires appear to have been started in a similar fashion. Investigators are looking to the community for assistance. If you have information about vehicle related arsons, please call the MCFRS Arson Hot Line: 240-777-2263 or the Montgomery County Police Crime Solvers at 1-800-673-2777.

In a survey of vehicle related arsons in 2006, there were total of 72 reported arsons in Montgomery County involving vehicles. Of the total reported vehicle fires, approximately 30% were stolen and burned. Those incidents jointly investigated by the task force have yield great results with arrests and denial of claims by the insurance carriers.

The primary mission of the task force is to reduce and deter the crime of auto thefts and arson to vehicles. The success of the task force is attributed to the cohesive partnership which exists among the two agencies, where the investigators are cross-trained in both disciplines in combating the most costly crimes shared by all. The Insurance industry estimates that approximately thirteen (13) cents of a dollar premium paid goes to off-set arson loss and seven (7) cents to off-set loss associated with vehicle thefts. The task force is also working closely with the insurance industry to ensure not only criminal prosecutions are aggressively pursued, but civil prosecutions are pursued with equal intensity where any suspicious claims are fully investigated and could be denied with minimal culpability.

If you have information about vehicle related arsons, please call the MCFRS Arson Hot Line: 240-777-2263 or the Montgomery County Police Crime Solvers at 1-800-673-2777. An investigator will take your information and your identity will remain confidential. If you get voice mail, please leave a phone number where an investigator can contact you discreetly. If your information leads to an arrest, then you will receive a monetary reward.

The Task Force is committed to protecting the community from individuals who victimize the owners of vehicles in Montgomery County and Maryland.