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title: 'New-York tribune. (New York [N.Y.]) 1866-1924, January 05, 1913, Page 12, Image 12',
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INCENDIARISM PLUS INSURAN?-A GET-RICH-QUICK SCHEME
Burning Up Things in New York City Has Proved a
Highly Lucrative Diversion for the Firebugs, Concern?
ing Whose Organized Operations Suspicion Was
First Aroused by the "Bad Business" of an
Insurance Broker in a Certain District.
kTlvg Commissioner Johnson has subn,
ted ?(? Mayor Qayi report ei I
"Incentluii;.'::i Ig <? ? It? Ne* I i
Among the startling statements conti Ii
In this handsomely prlnt<?d booh, 111
trated with uumerous photogra
"The crime of aisiui is rmmpant in <
"it is responsible foi one-fourth of r
rue leooes, Involving an annual destri
lion oi not less thin Ji.fA.yi worth
property. This la ssjors than Sl'i.^O a f!;
"DsessMs all sttorts of eotnscfa ntious pc
lie ofticias, the strenuous activities of o
tire marshals and the detection andjnt
SCUtiOH of nusaoTOUS lncen liarles, si
pldooa fires?particularly among sorts
well denned trades are on the inerva ?
"Without sanggerajUon mir ci;v is i*
to lace with a grave puhlic dsager.w
The statement that one lire in eve
four is "set" means several incendia
lires every day in New York. It soiin
incredible. It ?s calculated to shock tl
Mayor to lcarti that there are so mai
more heads in town than he perhaps hi
first Imagined that are filled with Va
WHERE FIRE 18 A CRIME.
In Berlin every' fire Is a crime. Th:
is the law. And, it is asked, why no
Run down the truth about any fire, ar
some one person will be found whose nt|
llgence or guilt was the cause of it.
Somebody stored dangerous quantlt'a
of Inflammable or explosive goods on tl
premises, or he built a frame structut
next to a sweatshop He took chance
with human HVOQ because It was cheap
In Berlin It Is n rt ? p The pollc
investigate every Hi ? i 'tho: it?
and the responsible per? n ?-.?os the cos
of putting out tu.it ? : , an i deranges be
sides. Note the result In Chicago, th
American city of equal 6lze, the annua
.Ire loss is $6.000.000; in Berlin, $300.000.
Commissioner Johnson says that In Eu
rope incendiarism does not exist, becaus
Insurance policies cannot be obtainei
?Althout previous Inspection of propcrt:
and close Inquiry Into the character o
a-i applicants. He adds:
"Dvery one in America can get a fln
Insurance policy for the mere asking. Th?
New York Fire Department has obtalnct
Ili'T.??O worth of fire Insurance, in th?
form of Iii different policies, bn property
wortr? only $3 96.
Dividing this amount, Commlsslonei
Johnson says the following values wer?
1'u.perty worth .|) ?M ?."'? ".? ?
Prpperty worth . W BB.O0I
Froparty ?rortii . OU i.<??
. J.'i '.??'. 1121 ?"??
A reroarhable tact, w?ia?i Coir.
JobjMOU states was disclosed by the Fir?
Department investigation. Is thai many
tra?das Is New York profit by incendiarism
The rile it:- .:ipu.'!?es should, bl
I, 81 .(?discriminate granting ol
? It off ihe main motive
i ?: .. i is his belle! that this is the
o::.. removing a serious public
?... i eg Involving the enor*
' rr.oua lot pr perty, ti.e crime ol srsoa
la this cltj : i, he says, responsible for a
? atha and for sssdnugering
thousands ol liven. Tue report continues:
A LUCRATIVE TRADE.
"New Vork ??ire marshals es.mia.te the
lire loss tor the yea* ended D< cemt. .
1911, at ?K?.47o,S06, but insurance authori
iiM bring this total up to ahOWt ill "
the difference in the estimates being <U:e
to the fact that insurance com?,anies au
;usted many losses which were not, until
recently, reported to the Fire Deportment.
'Accepting Insurance ?figures as a basis
I of calculation. New York is being dehber
* ately burned up at the rate of more than
?UO.WO a day. And this serious and grow?
ing loss is rot due to accidental ar.d un?
avoidable Jauses. It s caused by in?
"The murderous trade of Are making
appears to be one of the most lucrative
ind least risky occupations pursued by
?eriein classes of our population. Nor are
'hese persons confined to what may he uu
scribed as the criminal element.
naklng opportunists' are found in almost
every grade of life, from the t BSSMnt
dweller on the Las'. Side to the whole?
sale merchant In the downtown business
"Among these people n fire Is looked
jpon as a blessing by no means in dis
gutae. It Is frequently the readiest way
to ?realise a quick return on a slow mpvln? ?
stock of overlnsured geoda and Is also.
at times, tht only available method
averting Impeenllng Bnanelal ruin.
"Man) ftret investigated by our I
mara?al? are the oireit resuit of fini
: a An opportune fire, brli
ii ?? r????' I) cash, appeals with peeul
fore? to a merebant cmharrassed
\. bo consider? that the must pr
method Of disposing of obso!
lock i.s to '.-cil It to an insurance co
Plrt making has become almoat a I
art. Bo carefully are moat of these fii
planned, bo ably are they executed,
complete ia the destruction of all e
dance of incendiarism, that detection a
coavletlon of the crime ure extrem?
THE PERCENTAGE OF ARSO
"Definite data on which t*> base e-ci,
ti tic- tttlaoattt of txact ptroontagoa
Incendiary lires are almost wholly lackl?
and rtportt as to psictnlaga totals t
tins * lass of tires vary among diff?re
authorities. F H. Koss, metropolis
krancb manager of thre<? important ft
Int irtnot companies, estimates Ince
diary hies a? accounting for fully 40 p
cent ?if the total number.
"The Fite Marshal of Brooklyn. Thorn;
P. Brophy, who has devoted much tin
and energy to the Investigation of Ince
?Hat ism. and who has many convlctloi
of 'firebugs' to his credit, gives hi? opl
!on that arson causea 30 per cent of tl
total fire loss In this city, while the Ne
York Fire Marshal. John P. Priai, ?
egually assiduous departmental he a
i laces the figure at 25 per cent.
"Intll additional facts and tah'ilat?
statistic? extending over a period of >ea'
have be? n obtained. It Is considered bei
to accept the estimate of 2? per cent a?
tentative figure, which, if anything, en
on the side of conservatism.
"A condition which permita the d?lit
?rate destruction of 14,0X1.(100 worth ?.
property a year, which Imperils huma
life and Is such a danger to the corr
munlty well deserve? close scrutiny a
the hands not only of municipal official
who have the welfare of the city at he_
hut of the general public, who?. Interest
are so vitally affected."
An examination of the 14.571 fires I
greater New Yoik during 1911 reveals tn
ft? ', ?a; ? Commissioner Johnson, th'.
many individual firma In various traue
have the "lire habit."
Among thtsc he mentions certain firm
In the shirtwaist industry, cloak an
women's suit bus'ne??, the fur Industr;
and the hat and cap industry.
In the fur trade, he says, most Are
occur ?n the spring of the year.
*THE FIRE SYNDICATE.
Thla i? because trade slacken? dowi
In these mont?t." ht adds, "and ?orne o
? "hutlntsa anea' who deal in furs cat
ther or not they have a chnnc?
pf turning the corner wltr? their stock.
"If not, they may?and often do??a!
In the good offices of the 'fire syndicate
I ' ne else to help them out will
I fue: or else they 'take a chance' anc
attempt to make the fire themselves.
"Inexperience sometime?, lands them 'i
lit tf the fire marshal. The "exper
operator' is usually too clever to bi
faucht, except through some unfoteaeti
porta of low finance? trtra supplie?;
I actfit times to the Fire Department
. all the above trades, Commi?slon,i
? i bar little doubt It would be p>
il le to designate beforehand the ver;
.?i whose piem.se- Arcs would mosl
Also, be thinks, lnsuranee compunle
should take measure?? to make it d__Beul1
for all who 1 ave had previous suspiclou
flies to obtain Insurance. But, as long ai
it '.s openly Btated by the companies that
.',7.6 per cent of Incurred losses art
anviiig attured who have had prev'oi?,
fire.-," the condition, ho ?ays. seem? lr
rsiBtidlabln. BO ttr as tht insurance coat?
pardea IhtilBtf itfB are concerned.
Commissioner Johneon refers to the "ar?
son trust" as follows:
"During the five year? endrhg with De?
cember, 1911, ?n Greater New York 4?9 per?
sons were arrested for the crime of araon.
Of that Bomber, 112 have been convicted.
MngUtiates have dlschargid, grand juries
have faded to indict, or Juries have ac?
quitted 251 persons charged with arson
Persons of unsound mind and pyrotaa
niacs are not here Included.
DIFFICULTIES OF CONVICTION.
"Judging from the .small number of con?
viction? and the large percentage of per?
son? against whom the charge of araon
was brought, but not proven, the difficul?
ties of conviction in such cases may he
?0 Cents ZChr/Jb of Property eft J/o. J2 2 0 J?36 tb, J> oz? le/bicK
#/S,QQQ Insurance. Was Obtained by M Y Fire, Pe/ot?
fncerxiiary fire. in Living-rooms
Above JVouinef Pjc/t^raWJbovo f/o
4-08-470 ? //?tb.Jt. Oi: Filled*
Bladder in >Dooru>a?r, -Burst
bladder ov Floor r JO 31ctdderJ
Used, Zacb jCo-nCctivin?r a j
Gallon oftferosene "Vil. /?
s.irinlsed. Only an Intimate jirr?onal ac?
quaintance with arson eases and Ihe al?
most superhuman efforts ?requir? ?1 to ob?
tain convictions In such caaes tviu sjtvs
the figures here mention?*?! proper Big] lfl
"?'ase after case la broughl In our
courts, and even where svtdeaoS seems
overwhelmingly ronvlnclns* furies either
fail to oonsrlet, grand Juries f:.?i to in?ilrt.
or magistrates or jidc^s discharge, in
Fevciai eaaes srhers triais bave taken
pince Juiles have found parties "i <'t
guilty'' In the face of evlnen? e on which
an unblas?-?Hl petson of soun?l Judgment
could not fall to bring In a ? OnVl turn.
"Hut auch Is the nature of arson. An 1
convictions In these cases seem growing
even more dlftVult every day. yet not ul
lOgether from the failure of legal proceas.
"The up-to-date firebug Is an entirely
different perSOnsMty from his f.-llow
ciaftsman of even tea years luck. Where
the early llrel/ig worked with ha* I I I
benzine, turpentine, or other eoaMUOSI ma?
terials, the moOern SXPSTt onsploys hlghl)
volatile substances of in.SS .al ? omt o?4
I tien, and evlnie? great skill and knowl
I edre In the handling of ChStnlcslS I? ti?I 'i
ploslv?'S, time f::se? und ot'l.er devlcse.
? Complete an?l rapid destruction of prop?
erty is brought ??bout in S manner ma. . .?;
i it almost lmpos?l:le Of dOtOt t.un. B] th?. e
I methods eVMoa ?? ol ? ?? La
j wholly destu yod.
SKILL OF INCENDIARIES.
i "It 1s not propos, d In this repet? to pro?
vide a manual of firebug BMrthedS so that
persoris so inclined may learn how to
operate or what to avoid." Bailos It to
say that the pre ent-day operations of in?
cendiaries are. as a rule, so skilfully per
O/d- forjo, ^^*S||i M
/.cyme ar>rt ^^^Mfy
Shr>d. fojcueeJ itf^^^Z:
Tiret Marjbdlt Srophy oro
formed that It I? only by tht B
? -Ment -?ome failure of a well laid i
that fire niHr?hhls ?re ahft tO Lrl; ??
of the?e people to ttattlOa
"The ?tnni'lr.g out of ln?*endj I
catching fit eh ig?. In the net |? ? " Bt
BBMBBlhle "f nltalnui* nt. In- I ?
lan aa on the pari of present I ???
', ha? aire.id" acted i? a decided d
? in tl?aaa eaatt kart
foe gata It ta tht i . ' ?
very | lood of the people,
be to-day n he. o Individ and
firm? look to fir* h In ordtr It tin ??
money (ram laturan t <
: i? no way of pnttti c ."? end it Um
i but by Bttaaiag the baraat ?? tf baa a
ptJhntt under the present ?yatBtB.*'
| Among B gr* a' n ?rnher of tTtOH I B i I
! told by Mr. Johnson In Uet_l! tht f
Ing 1? ?eleeted.
piaaaalt l-rtbogt pkay an imptaitnt pari
o t "Fire -&?<*/
(?: tpt Powder
w This Hou-jG
K.let iff Poom
Oil Joe* lie ci- ?
Property Worth S314?* on Which Insurance
Compa??a bs-u-etd JS3.S00 Worth of Ivi-u-rance,.
,0? #3.-96 Worth o/ Property Therffj.rued; #72 7,
\S00 Jrtjttrc/Dce, ^rn ttfc Fortr> of 73S Different
In Ineend1arl?m Mary sn Innocent look- I
Ing curtain and gas Jet Maze, keiosene;
or benzine f.aro-up or clothes closet tir?- I
Is the skilfully executed work of tho |
In the firebug profession men by no
means exercise a monopoly. Home ?if the
most adroit (ire operativ, s ate women
Strangely enough, in the congested dis?
tricts of the city, among portions of th?
population addict? d to the habit of hav?
ing fires, elderly women and mothers of
families do not hesitate to "make fires"
whenever suitable opportunity arises.
Cases have ? time to the attention of Fire
Marshal Priai where grandmothers In
certain families have applied the torch
of arson; particularly In those most
difficult of Incemliary casts?clothes clos
THE FEMALE FIREBUQ.
A woman firebug -Tas? which attracted
much attention a few years ago was the
Annie Ackerly affair in Brooklyn. The
Ore occurred at No. 114 WychotY street
on Deoembsr 10, 1907.
"It was sn apartment house. Other
sattaiUes besides thlg woman oooujaed tho
pietnl.'fs. and had her plans succeeded
l?verai liven would have been lost.
"Sic, p|ng in the apartment below the
Ackirly woman was a family with
little children who were awakened by i
hat water dripping down upon them from
the ftal above dn Investigation a tiro'
was found blazing In tho A? kerly worn
an'a a part man ta the heat having melted
the water pipes, water from which had
dripped down through the tathnga Had
It not been for thi? fortunate accident
other tenant? In the house might have
been burned to death.
"The occupant of the apartment tn
which the fire occurred w&a absent. She
had taken her three children and gone to
Port Jefferson, I-oiig Island. Incendiaries
Invariably absent themselves and are
thus abli to provide an alibi when the
proper time comes. Sho was traced by
a clew found In a letter.
"After the Fire Department had euc
ceeded In putting out the Are a remarka?
ble state of affair? was diacloaed. Baver?
ai time plant?' were found In sideboard?,
cupboard? and cloaeta. Oil soaked papara
and kindling wood, with caudles burning
on top of them? were foun__ Undtr a bed
" Insurance and Incendiarism Go Hand In Hand," Says fig*
G)mmissioner Johnson, Whose Manipulations Revealed*
the Alarming Laxity of Insurance Companies in
Regard to Inspection and a Corresponding
Activity Among Gentlemen of the Torch.
was a wooden box with a complete plant
of papers, wood and a candle, th? 'whole
being soaked in oil. a
The Bta had made a good start and
would have entirely destroyed the place
had It not been for the melting of the
A WOODEN LEG INSURED.
"The Assistant Fire Marshal of
Brooklyn, Thomas P. Brophy, present
Incumbent of the office, was assigned to
the case, anl in the course of investiga?
tion jame upon a number of circum?
stances which convinced him that the
absent woman had caused the fire. In
the first place she had had a previous
fire when living In Iloyt street, and on
that occasion had accused a certa.n man
of 'burning her out.' The man had been
arrested, but there was not sufficient
evldenco to hold him. The Fire Marshal
had entertained suspicions any way that
tha a?JCUBod man was not the person
"A few days prior to the last Are the
Ackerly woman had turned out of her ?
that one wonders at the cold hlood?|
calculation necessary to perpetrate theta.
Such a crime is arson In the first degree,
for which crime you were Indicted, ?ad
for which you have been convicted la a
lesser degree after a' careful trial?the
first woman found guilty of tl is cr?ate
here In twenty year?.
" 'I am convinced that you were re?
sponsible for the previous fire in year
former home, and when you found yet
were not suspected of that crime yM
planned thi? affair, and at the ?ame tir?e
Increased the Insurance on your property.
You are a menace to this city of hotaat,
and I send you to Auburn Prison for o
term of not les? than fourteen year?.' "
Another Instance Is related as follow?:
"One of the moat daatardly ?venta kg
the entire history of incendiarism waa U_?
attempt to burn seven decrepit horse? kg
a stable In the rear of No. 3*33 Johr_aaa
avenue, Brooklyn, on the night of Augaat
14. 1912. The plot wat frustrated and tho
band of firebuga captured. The leader tf
thla band waa Morrla Greenberg, ?Baa
Th? Torch,' aged ?lxty-flve years
CRUELTY OF THE CRIME.
"These fiend? pursue?, ?in atrocious fora?
of Are Insurance ?windle. It waa thear
plan to Inaure good horaea and then ?._
atltute for them broken down hacka,
which thiy burned In order to collect In?
"Fortunately for the poor horaea fat tfet
caae. word had reached Fire Marshal
Brophy of Brooklyn that an atteraft
would be made to ?et fire to the ?table ?a i
a certain night. Aa they arranged to-ar
plans, the Fire Marshal tn turn perfectadl
"For ?everal day? prior to the proponed
attempt the man owning the horse?, tea
firebugs and other pers?fn? connected ?rtO.
the affair were assiduously ?ha/lowes.
The owner of the horaea, one Loaag
Evant, or 'Evantky,' of No. 214 Varet
atreet. In the Willlamaburg dlttrict. Bad
been attending auction ?ale? In Ea?t New I
York and elaewhere, buying up numbers i
of decrepit and ?seles? horse?, ?orne ef'
apartments, without any apparent reason
an old soldier, telling him she could nt
longer permit him to stay with her. Hi
was a man with a wooden leg. In Mrs
Ackerly's previous Are she had put In i
claim against the Insurance company foi
'ene wooden leg value J60,' the propertj
of the old veteran, but, curiously enough
! ?< had never been deprived uf his axil
"??he had removed from her apartments
a few days bofOVO the fire a larga numbet
of her belongings.
"'Tiie absence of the woman In Porl
JottetSOB lent certain difficulties to the
I .< -<?. In tho llrst place, belt.g outside the
Jurisdiction of th? Brooklyn courts, pro?
ceedings could not be brought against her
without overcoming legal technicalities.
"The Assistant Fire Marshal managed
to locaUs the Ackerly woman at her
mother s place in l'ort Jefferson. By In?
timating to her that ber old enemy had
again burned her out, and telling her the
place was completely gutted, be Induced
her to return wlthJUm to Brooklyn.
A LONQ SENTENCE.
"Once within the Jurisdiction of the
courts she was Immediately arrested and
accused of the crime ol (netting (lie to her
place in the night time, when other per
Hons were asleep on the premises? 'arson
in the first degree.'
"After a lengthy trial before Judge Nor?
man S. Dlk? Annie Ackerly was convict?
ed of arson In the second degree and
sentenced to a fourteen-year term In
prison, which she Is now serving.
"She had a policy of $2,000 on her place
at the time, and would have collected it
had not the dripping water awakened the
family living below her.
"Ths fact that she had obtained money
from a previous Are had not deterred in?
surance companies from granting her fur?
"Judge Dike, in pronouncing sentence
on this woman, delivered ths following
" There are ??extern crimes that are so
revolting in their dlaregard af human Ule
which were Itme and absolutely unfitata-i
for work, to be aubatltuted for th? get*'
horse? In his atable.
"On th? hortet Installed by Event at
No. S63 Johnaon avenue- a deaerted ett
tlon of the Borough of Brooklyn?he at?
tained no less than $1.400 worth of Inggf.
anee In th? Northern Assurance Company
of I/ondon Th? agent who obtained the
policies for Evan?, Jacob Zamiok. of Ne.
?9 Woodbin? ?tract, Brooklyn, stated un?
der oath that he had not inspected tht
horse? at all before applying for the la-'
"Neverthele??. th? company had l??t?d
$1,400 worth of Insurance on horses wrdck
were subsequently ?old by Evans'? wife,
at lea?t ?lx of them, for the sum of f_t?
or $4 16 each. Had the 'plugs' been buread
up, claims f'?r th? ?even horses wot-d
I have been trade agalnat the lnauratee
company for $300 each, and receipted hfile
would doubtless have been pnxl ?otd,
showing th? valuea of the better hortat
for which they had been aubatltuted.
"The principal firebuga in thla affair
were Morris Oreenberg, aged ?Ixty-ftve?
of Ko. 346 Blake avenu?. Brownsville; kla
son, David Oreenberg. aged twenty-three,
of the same address; Louis Evan?, tr
'Evanaky,' truckman, of the addreaa al?
ready mentioned, and Hyman ?Va-aer
man, a contractor, of No. 404 Blake ave?
nue. The Oreenberga. Evan? and Wat?
aerman admitted their guilt, the I set
named turning state'? evidence and mak?
ing aenaatlonal dlacloaurea"
BAD BUSINESS AND SUSPICIONS?;
The following Interesting account teat-,
of the way In which the department flntt,
learned of the "fire-making" bualneas:
"The attention of the Fire Depai linaBBj,
waa first drawn to the making of fires tt
a bualneaa by an lnauranc? broker at
Manhattan, who made a atatement to a
department chief to the effect that ha
had been driven out ef bualneaa In a car-,
tain aectlon of the city owing to ti?*?
prevalence of 'eueptcloue' Area. His eoa_*t?
nenies were refuting to lasut policies Ik
that aeotlon. '
"la that pavrtltular Bikghkaahaai?