March 18, 2024

Chicago Arson Cases Increase in 2023; Could It Rise in 2024?

By Joe Reyna

Chicago had more than 500 recorded arson cases in 2023, nearly 100 more than the previous year, according to data from Chicago Data Portal,  The data raises the question: Would arson cases rise again in 2024.

WGN News reported at the start of 2024, an arsonist struck five buildings across the North side neighborhoods of Lincoln Square and Andersonville. The suspect remains at large.

In 2023, the Chicago Data Portal recorded 512 cases of arson in the city — a 21.9 percent increase from the previous year — and only 58 arrests were made. The most common form of arson involved burning property, followed by attempted arson cases.

The map of arson cases in 2023 revealed that neighborhoods such as Englewood, Humboldt Park, South Shore and Austin had the highest number of incidents. neighborhoods that received the most arson cases in 2023. Meanwhile, neighborhoods such as Hyde Park, Woodlawn, North Park, Near South Side, and Edgewater had the fewest or no recorded arson cases in 2023.

The City of Chicago Data Portal recorded 420 cases of arson in Chicago in 2022. Out of these 420 cases, only 40 arrests were made. In 2022, the neighborhoods most affected by arson-related crimes were Austin, North Lawndale, Chicago Lawn, West Englewood, and Englewood. Conversely, neighborhoods with few or no arson incidents were Hyde Park, Burnside, Ashburn, McKinley Park and Jefferson Park. The question remains:

The threat of arson continues to impact many Chicagoans, and it manifests in various forms. For instance, the Chicago Police Department warned residents of South Chicago about a repeating arsonist suspect who was observed setting fires in alleys across the neighborhood three times in 2023, with another incident occurring recently this month.

The increase in arson cases in 2023 underscores the complexity of this issue. Illinois laws on arson, stipulate that those arrested for arson may face sentences ranging from three years to 30 years, depending on the severity of the crime.

Despite the continued threat of arson, there still are methods to prevent being a victim of it, according to authorities. Report to the police immediately for any tips of the arsonist suspect. Avoid leaving behind anything flammable like gasoline outside, so a potential arsonist could not have access to using to burn anything. As well as always have outdoor lights on to dissuade a potential arsonist to strike any property that belongs to you.

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