ARSON – A Hot Topic at City Hall

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The City of Winnipeg is sounding alarm bells after a report indicates 2012 arson numbers continued to skyrocket.

Those numbers show there were 583 incidents of arson in 2012 compared to 226 in 2007.  Between 2007-2012 Police reported a total of 2,475 arsons.  Since 2007, 638 people were arrested or cautioned in connection with 517 arson events, a figure that represents an approximate 25% solvency rate.  In 2012, Police arrested or cautioned 90 people regarding 73 of the 583 arson events.  That figure represents a solvency rate for 2012 of approximately 12.5 %.

Annual figures for Winnipeg arson have been on an upward trend since 2007:

  • 2007 – 226
  • 2008 – 314
  • 2009 -417
  • 2010 – 400
  • 2011 – 535
  • 2012 – 583

The 2012 report includes geographical information which identifies arson “hot spots” as follows:

  • District #3 – 225 arsons (North End)
  • District #1 – 150 arsons (Downtown)
  • District #4 – 110 arsons (Areas East of Red)
  • District #2 – 50 arsons (St James)
  • District #6 – 50 arsons (Fort Garry)

(Arson numbers are approximations)

The report identifies the typical arson offender profile as youths and repeat arsonists.  Since 2007, 98 people have been identified as repeat offenders after being arrested or cautioned for more than one incident.  Chronic offenders are defined as those who have been charged or cautioned with arson offences in more than one calendar year.  Of the 98 repeat offenders, Police identified twenty-five (25) as chronic offenders.  Chronic offenders average five (5) offences and have ranged from two (2) arrests or cautions on the low-end of the spectrum to forty-four (44) arrests on the high-end of the spectrum.

In 2012, garbage fires accounted for 25% of the overall arson statistics.

In April of 2013, The Police Insider published a report highlighting the Daniel McIntyre Ward, a neighbourhood in decline as evidenced by unsanitary conditions created by mountains of garbage scattered in back lanes and streets.  The photographs tell the story, overloaded auto bins, abandoned couches, mattresses and torn garbage bags strewn about.

This garbage provides one of the essential tools of the trade for burgeoning arsonists.  Garbage is an invitation that a pyromaniac with a bic lighter or a match finds very difficult to resist.

If the City of Winnipeg wants to be serious about reducing arson, I respectfully suggest they should stop being part of the problem.  It seems to me the Arson Strike Force Unit could report a 25% arson reduction in 2013 if the City of Winnipeg would offer some leadership and take responsibility for abandoned furniture, mattresses and overflowing auto bins in areas where people live who never even had an optimists hope of being “in the program.”

It all comes down to the Mayor, City Councillors and leadership.  The Police identified the problem now it’s time for the City to take some ownership.  If I was a City Councillor there wouldn’t be one abandoned couch, mattress or overflowing autobin in my ward.  The people of Winnipeg love to come together for a good cause, that’s what makes our City so great.

Mobilize the community, get rid of the garbage and cut arson by 25%.

It’s that easy.


THE POLICE INSIDER – “If it Looks Like S#i!”

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