In 2018, agencies from the U.S. reported over 36,000 arsons. More than 43% involved residences or other buildings, 23% were motor vehicles and other types of property accounted for 33% of all arsons. The average amount per arson came to over $17,000.
Included in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program’s 2018 Crime in the United States report is the estimated number of arrests for arson. Government agencies made close to 2 million arrests. The majority involved property crime, but over 520,000 included violence.
The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program characterizes arson as any intentional burning or attempts to burn a residence, someone’s personal property, motor vehicle, aircraft or other building with or without intent to defraud. The state of Illinois breaks it down further by adding:
- Place of worship arson
- Damages of personal property with a value of over $150
- Intent to defraud an insurer
Place of worship arson occurs when a person deliberately damages any place of worship when committing the act of arson.
Illinois considers arson a Class 2 felony, with residential and place of worship arsons listed as Class 1. A Class 2 felony includes a prison sentence of three to seven years and fines up to $25,000. Class 1 felonies have a four to a 15-year prison term with up to $25,000 in fines.
The state of Illinois extends the act of arson to include aggravated arson. The criminal code defines aggravated arson as the act of intentionally setting fire to a residence, school, watercraft, motor vehicle and:
- One or more people are inside the building, school, or vehicle
- Any person suffers an injury, disability or disfigurement
- A fireman, policeman or correctional officer sustains an injury
Aggravated arson is a Class X felony, the most severe class of felony coming just under first-degree murder. A person charged with committing a Class X felony may serve from six to 30 years and a fine up to $25,000. For more egregious charges, imprisonment may extend to 60 years.