Arson, or the act of intentionally setting a fire, is a criminal offense that can often lead to large fines and significant prison time. The National Fire Protection Association collected statistics from 2010-2014 to gain a better understanding the frequency of intentional fires as well as their outcomes. The numbers are staggering.
According to a report from the National Fire Protections Association (NFPA), on average, fire departments across the United States responded to over 250,000 fires that were intentionally set per year. Structure fires were reported as 19% of the total intentional fires but accounted for 87% of the civilian deaths and 86% of the civilian injuries. With those statistics, it is important we quickly bring arsonists to justice. The newest way to combat an arsonist is to catch them on video.
The vast majority of the population is permanently connected to their mobile devices; posting images and videos of the world around them. Whether they are posting on their favorite social media platform or checking their fantasy sports teams, cell phones are the common denominator, where users have the power to create a large volume of web content. With the emergence of web investigations, we now have the opportunity to put all of this content to good use.
How Can Social Media Investigations Impact the Outcome of Arson Cases?
In 2017, the Milwaukee Fire Department was alerted to a residential structure fire. After arriving on scene, the firefighters conducted a search of the structure and found an elderly male, badly burned, and carried him out of the house. The gentleman was later pronounced dead on the scene. The investigation was already underway when fire investigators were made aware of a cell phone video that had been circulating social media sites. The video showed a female subject dumping the contents of a red gas can into the first-floor windows that she had broken.
The fire not only endangered the man and also the emergency services personnel that responded to the scene. After investigators were able to view the cell phone video, they made quick work of finding the suspect. Through social media, investigators were able to not only see the video, but gather witnesses and reports. Open source intelligence gathering can be a vital method in solving crimes, including arson. Social media intelligence experts have the tools and the knowledge to locate crucial evidence in specific regions and gather intel that can aid law enforcement agencies. The proper contact and information can lead to less deaths from arson and a faster response to the crime. When conducting an important investigation, SMI Aware can be your leader in web and social media investigations.
SMI Aware’s team of experts conduct in-depth web & social media investigations and deliver key findings that can solve a case.