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HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point Fire Department urges car owners and home owners of the Triad to comprehend the dangers of car arson—a problem attributed to more than 30 deaths in recent years and the chosen theme of this year's National Arson Awareness Week in May.

"Car arson is not a victimless crime," said High Point fire marshal Chris Weir.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2007 and 2011, intentionally-set vehicle fires accounted for seven percent of arsons and caused 32 civilian deaths, 67 civilian injuries and $176 million in direct property damage. Weir said all insurance holders are affected by vehicle arsons, as they cause premiums to increase.

The FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program indicates on average, there are more than 14,700 vehicle arsons per year.

Damon Tobin, the chief of training for the High Point Fire Department, said vehicle arsons put fire fighters at dangerous risk. The combustibility of the fuel and other liquids attribute to how quickly car fires can ignite and spread. Tobin and Weir emphasized all homes and property near the site of the car fire are at risk of igniting.

Weir said most intentionally-set car fires are the result of an attempt to conceal evidence after a car robbery. Therefore, he recommends people practice the following vehicle arson prevention tips:

• Park car in well-lit area
• Use secure parking lot for extended periods
• Close all windows
• Remove key from ignition
• Always lock doors, trunk and tailgate
• Report abandoned cars to the police
• Do not leave valuables in plain sight
• Use a recover system, such as GPS or Lojack

National Arson Awareness Week is May 4 to May 10. During that time, the U.S. Fire Administration is launching a collaborative effort with fire and emergency service departments, law enforcement, insurance companies and the justice system.

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