Crime is up, but arsons rose 58% in Youngstown

YOUNGSTOWN — Crime in the city rose 5.5 percent overall in 2006 compared to the previous year, with arson up a whopping 58 percent, records show.

Capt. Alvin Ware, commander of the arson bureau, said 253 structures and 54 vehicles were deliberately set on fire in 2006. He said 209 of the structures were vacant, with several being torched more than once and counted each time as a separate arson.

In 2005, the city recorded 196 arsons compared to 307 last year.

Ware said the 54 vehicle arsons is a drop from the previous year total of 72. Vehicles are burned in domestic situations, sometimes as retaliation between rival drug dealers and for insurance fraud — when owners want to get out of high payments, especially for trucks and SUVs, he said.

“Vacant houses remain our biggest problem,” Ware said. “The problem picked up last year with copper thefts. People burn the houses to make it easier to get to the pipes and some think it’s OK to enter a vacant burned house.”

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