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Arson - Clery Crimes/Hierarchy Rules

Arson is willful or malicious burning or the attempt to burn with or without intent to defraud a dwelling house, public building, motor vehicle or aircraft, personal property of another, etc. 

There are three categories of arson:

  1. Structural: houses, townhouses, duplexes, apartments, hotels, inns, dormitories, barns, garages, warehouse stores, restaurants, offices, churches, jails, schools, monuments, buildings under construction
  2. Mobile:cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, trailers, planes, boats
  3. Other:crops, timber, fences, signs, merchandise stored outside a structure

One offense for each distinct arson operation originating within the reporting jurisdiction.

Count only if investigated. This is the only Clery Act offense that requires an investigation prior to including in statistics.

Because the Clery Act requires institutions to disclose all arsons that occur on their Clery geography, you must have every fire that is not known to be accidental (such as a cooking fire) investigated.

  • For multiple offenses, one of which is arson, report the arson and apply the Hierarchy Rule to determine the most serious offense to report.
  • Count any fire that investigation determines to meet the UCR definition of arson regardless of the value of the property damage.
  • Count incidents where an individual willfully or maliciously burns his or her own property.

Do Not Count

  • Do not count if origin is not in your jurisdiction.


  • The fire must be more than suspicious or of an unknown nature of origin.
  • An arson determination must be made by either a fire authority (such as a fire marshal or law enforcement personnel) or by another individual experienced in arson investigation. The latter includes someone at your institution who has received training in arson investigation by a fire authority.