The recent economic downturn has led to a rash of car and SUV arsons. Some vehicle owners who can’t keep up with their automotive payments are torching their cars in order to fraudulently collect the insurance money and have their debt removed.Vehicle arson isn’t a new trend, but when the economy dips, the number of arsons rises. When the economy is positive, the number levels off and bottoms out. As car owners become desperate to make the next payment, they may turn to this crime. Unfortunately, some people are willing to burn their car and risk being arrested and a criminal conviction for a quick payout.It may seem strange for a person to destroy their car just to collect the insurance money instead of trying to sell it to reduce the amount of debt they’re in. However, in many of these situations, the owners owe more than what the actual worth of the vehicle and would have to cover the difference if it was sold.In the past few years, there has been large increase in the amount of vehicle arsons across the country. While legitimate vehicle theft and destruction does happen, a vehicle torched for insurance fraud purposes is usually burned beyond recognition. A thief usually will take or destroy any evidence that can be traced back to him. An arsonist will make sure the car is totaled as to receive the full amount of insurance money. Most often, arson investigators will find traces of accelerants like gasoline were used to set the car on fire and keep it burning.Many states have specific task forces charged with dealing with the high number of vehicle insurance fraud cases. Some have found that the problem is much deeper than one individual looking to erase a debt. For example, there are networks of criminals who will work with the vehicle owner to coordinate a time to steal and torch a car for a cut of the insurance payment. Fraud-for-hire cases like this are on the rise throughout America.If you’re in a situation where you can’t afford the monthly bills for a vehicle and you’re upside down on the payments, talk to your bank or credit union to try to secure a small personal loan. Then you can try to sell the vehicle legitimately and legally.Committing vehicle arson and insurance fraud is dangerous. When caught, an offender can be sent to prison and pay hefty fines, leaving them in much higher debt than they were in originally. Arson and insurance fraud cases are investigated thoroughly by insurance claims representatives and police investigators. A quick payout is not worth the years of pain and embarrassment a criminal conviction will cost you.