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The analysis of the case of fire indicates that arson was the cause because the fire started in every part of the warehouse and the fire alarm was disconnected to prevent early warning. The scrutiny of financial and inventory documents provides the first direction of investigating the motive for profit. Low profitability or losses, low sales, and low inventory indicate arson for direct profit through an insurance claim. In contrast, high profitability, high sales, and adequate inventory imply that the motive for arson is indirect profit through the elimination of competitors. The animosity motive is the second direction of the investigation because a conflict between the owner and aggrieved party would result in arson. Crime concealment is the third direction of the investigation for the existence of fraud, embezzlement, or theft in the workplace that provides grounds arson. The fourth direction of the investigation is extremism motive by animal activists.
The Case of Arson
Arson is a common form of crime, which entails intentionally destruction of property using fire to achieve a given motive. Broadly, arsonists destroy property based on economic, psychological, and social motives, which compel them to commit arson. Nordskog (2016) outlines that profit, animosity, vandalism, extortion, crime concealment, political factors, and psychopathological factors are possible motives that drive arsonists to destroy property. The case of fire at the Novandon Fur Warehouse emanates from arson because how the fire occurred depicts the intentional destruction of property. First, the investigative team observed that the fire commenced at several parts of the warehouse at once. Second, the fire detection equipment was disconnected from the telephone line to prevent early alert of fire. Third, there was a complete loss of property as the fire had destroyed the warehouse by the time the fire team turned up. Therefore, based on pointers of arson, this essay examines possible motives of arsonists by scrutinizing warehouse documents and interviewing warehouse owners.
Scrutiny of documents would provide the first direction for motive, which is the profit motive. The scrutiny of financial and inventory documents is necessary to establish possible motives of arsonists because they provide important information regarding the financial status and performance of the warehouse. A profit-motivated arsonist destroys property intending to gain direct or indirect benefits (Doley, Dickens, & Gannon, 2015). When businesses perform poorly in their respective markets, owners usually plan to destroy them and make an insurance claim to get inflated compensation so that they can wind up their businesses in a profitable state (Hess, Orthmann, & Cho, 2016). In this case, scrutiny of the financial and inventory records to assess the performance of the warehouse would provide important information regarding the motive for arsonists. Poor performance, low profitability or losses, and low inventory would be a pointer to arson for direct profit. In this perspective, the owner is not the victim, but the arsonist who aims to get direct profits from insurance firms.
If the scrutiny of financial and inventory records shows that the warehouse is performing well with high profitability, high sales, and adequate inventory, the motive for arson shifts to indirect profit benefit by the arsonist. In a competitive business environment, a rival business owner may decide to destroy competing businesses to alleviate competition, increase sales, and enhance monopoly (Doley et al., 2015). Analysis of the case shows that the arsonist aimed to annihilate the warehouse for they torched it from all parts and disconnected alarm to prevent early response by the fire team. Hess et al. (2016) explain that arson to eliminate competitors in common in a business environment where there are few competitors for the best way to eliminate them is through arson. In such instances, the motive for arson is indirect profit to eliminate competitors, increase sales, and monopolize a market.
The second direction for investigating the motive for arson is the animosity motive. The animosity between individuals is normally a motive for arson, as the offended party, decides to settle scores or revenge by setting fire to the property of the offender. To establish if the motive for arson is animosity or other threats, interviewing the owner of the warehouse is necessary. The lead investigator should ask the owner if he/she had any personal differences with business partners, employees, neighbors, friends, or owner of a business premise. According to Doley et al. (2015), animosity-motivated arson can occur at the personal level, group level, institutional level, or societal level where conflicting parties retaliate by arson. The animosity motive is a psychological concept in which a person displaces and directs anger to the property instead of the actual person initiating the grievance (Kivivuori, Savolainen, & Aaltonen, 2016). For example, a conflict between a supervisor and an employee may result in arson as an act of revenge to destroy the employer’s property. The existence of animosity could point out the motive for the arson is animosity between the owner and the aggrieved party.
Crime Concealment Motive
Crime concealment is the third direction for investigating the motive for arson. In the motive for crime concealment, arson becomes a secondary crime that conceals a primary crime. Karmen (2015) asserts that arson is at times a diversionary tactic that criminals use in concealing their primary crime by annihilating physical evidence. Since employees in the workplace or organizations commit crimes of theft, embezzlement, and fraud, they use arson as a scheme of destroying forensic evidence, which would potentially unravel their crimes. Interviewing the owner to provide information regarding the prevalence of theft, fraud, or embezzlement would indicate if the motive for arson could be crime concealment. The prevalence of such crimes in the workplace or organization would indicate that the arson aimed to conceal them. Usually, the destruction of records or property, as depicted in this case, indicates that the motive for the arson is to conceal theft, embezzlement, or fraud.
The fourth direction for investigating the motive for arson is extremism. Extremists have strong beliefs and persuasions, which compel them to attack individuals, businesses, or organizations that deal with products or services that deem offensive to their beliefs, religion, or political stance (Doley et al., 2015). As the warehouse deals with fur obtained from sable and mink, it attracted attacks from animal activists who oppose the use of animal products in the clothing industry. Kim (2015) describes animal activists as extremists because they are malevolent, irrational, and pathological individuals with the ability to cause arson, vandalism, bombings, and deaths. Thus, animal activists might have decided to annihilate the warehouse to protect and conserve sable and mink. In this regard, interviewing the owner to establish if animal activists have been a threat to his/her business in the past is essential. The existence of threats from animal activists indicates that the possible motive for the arson is extremism to protect and conserve animals.
Doley, R., Dickens, G., & Gannon, T. (2015). The psychology of arson: A practical guide to understanding and managing deliberate firesetters. New York, NY: Routledge.
Hess, K., Orthmann, C., & Cho, H. (2016). Criminal investigation. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.
Karmen, C. (2015). Crime victims: An introduction to victimology. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.
Kim, C. (2015). Dangerous crossings. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Kivivuori, J., Savolainen, J., & Aaltonen, M. (2016). The revenge motive in delinquency: Prevalence and predictors. Acta Sociologica, 59(1), 69-84.
Nordskog, W. (2016). The arsonist profiles: Analyzing arson motives and behavior. New York, NY: Create-Space Independent Publishing Platform.