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The effect of temperature on arson incidence in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Abstract

Studies of crime and weather have largely excluded arson from empirical and theoretical consideration, yet weather could influence arson frequency over short time frames, influencing the motivation and activity of potential arsonists, as well as the physical possibility of fire ignition. This study aims to understand the role of weather on urban arson in order to determine its role in explaining short-term variations in arson frequency. We use data reported to the Ontario Fire Marshall’s office of arson events in the City of Toronto between 1996 and 2007 to estimate the effect of temperature, precipitation, wind conditions and air pressure on arson events while controlling for the effects of holidays, weekends and other calendar-related events. We find that temperature has an independent association with daily arson frequency, as do precipitation and air pressure. In this study area, cold weather has a larger influence on arson frequency than hot weather. There is also some evidence that extremely hot and cold temperatures may be associated with lower day-time arson frequency, while night-time arson seems to have a simpler positive linear association with temperature.

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Correspondence to Niko Yiannakoulias.

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Yiannakoulias, N., Kielasinska, E. The effect of temperature on arson incidence in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Int J Biometeorol 60, 651–661 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-015-1059-x

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Keywords

  • Arson
  • Temperature
  • Weather
  • Crime
  • Behaviour