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Arson-for-Profit Information Center - Final Review and Evaluation Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 1981
This report describes and evaluates New York City's Arson-for-Profit Information Center, a project which developed a research center staffed by 10 part-time senior citizens to collect data on mortgage and ownership transactions and access computerized administrative records on buildings as a basic aid in arson investigations.

Although city administrative records can provide many clues regarding financial motives for arson and assist in identifying suspects, the collection of this information is prohibitively time-consuming and complex and usually undertaken only as a last resort in an arson investigation. Aided by two Federal grants, New York City's Arson Strike Force decided to address this problem by creating the Arson-for-Profit Information Center in 1980. This report first details activities that were involved in establishing the center, which was inaugurated in July 1980 and had processed over 2,400 cases by May 1981. A discussion of problems encountered in the center's first year focuses on interagency cooperation and the time it takes for an investigator to receive insurance information. Changes in the original grant concept and criticisms voiced by users over the center's case processing time are also examined. The report concludes that the center is now an accepted part of the investigative community, has helped upgrade investigators' levels of expertise in technical areas, and has produced valuable data on arson-for-profit patterns. The center has also published a popular manual for investigators and prosecutors and feels that this system can be replicated by other jurisdictions. Planned improvements in the system, which will be funded by New York City, are described. The appendixes contain newspaper articles, the center's procedures guide, and the evaluation questionnaires.

Date Published: September 1, 1981