Special Philly task force keeps an eye on 'arson for profit'

Members of the Philadelphia Arson and Explosives Task Force investigate damage caused by a fire.
Photo credit Courtesy of the Philadelphia Arson and Explosives Task Force
By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia's Arson and Explosives Task Force is drawing awareness to the dangers of intentionally set fires during hard economic times.

The task force has been in place in Philadelphia since 1977, making it the oldest continuously running arson and explosives task force in the United States.

It's composed of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Philadelphia fire and police departments.

"There are different studies out there that sometimes link rises in the rates of arson crime to difficult economic times," said Don Robinson, ATF special agent in charge for the Philadelphia Field Division. "We see some trends at times where arson for profit goes up. We are looking at that."

The public is being asked to supply tips or video of suspicious activity.

"We are losing citizens," Robinson said. "We are losing firefighters across the country when they go to fight these fires."

Reporting Philly arson tips can be done anonymously.