This is a joint media release with WA Police and the Department of Environment and Conservation.
People are being urged to watch out for suspicious activity this bushfire season and report it to Crime Stoppers.
To help tackle the problem of arson in Western Australia, WA Police, FESA, the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) and Crime Stoppers have joined forces and launched a public awareness advertising campaign today.
Each year, arson cost Australian taxpayers $1.6billion, puts people’s lives at risk and destroys Western Australia’s unique native flora and fauna.
Police Arson Squad Inspector Valdo Sorgiovanni said the efforts of police and firefighters would be enhanced by an ‘Against Arson’ campaign directed at those who are vulnerable during the bushfire season, and the community as a whole.
“During their patrols throughout the community, police will be handing out pamphlets reinforcing the need to be vigilant against arsonists, and reminding those who see suspicious behaviour to contact police or Crime Stoppers directly,” Inspector Sorgiovanni said.
“We are still having great success in apprehending arsonists, with 172 arson related charges laid by WA Police from January to October 2011.
“And the penalties remain high, with the maximum penalty now life imprisonment for those who wilfully destroy or damage property by fire.
“A $50,000 reward is also available for information leading to the identification and conviction of people deliberately lighting fires in Western Australia.
“If you observe any suspicious behaviour, please call 000 immediately. If you suspect someone of bushfire arson, please call Crime Stoppers confidentially on 1800 333 000.”
FESA District Manager Fire Investigation and Analysis Unit Craig Waters said the work of just one arsonist could destroy countless homes and community support was needed to catch the culprits.
“We need the community to help prevent bushfires and understand the significant role they play by reporting suspicious behaviour,” Mr Waters said.
“You might see something and think nothing of it but it’s these small pieces of information that often help firefighters and police put the puzzle together.
“Arson places an enormous financial burden on the community. It has the potential to destroy the environment and property, as well as injure or kill people.
“We can track a fire back to the origin of ignition, but from this point information provided by community members is vital.”
The campaign is supported by The West Australian, 6PR, BHP Billiton, Lotterywest, Police and Nurses Mutual Banking and the Community Newspaper Group.