Did the Toilet Torcher Strike Again?

Arson is a big problem in recent years. Here are some tips to prevent getting burned

On Jan. 1, officers in San Francisco were called to the scene of yet another portable restroom fire.

Some of you may have heard of the infamous “toilet torcher,” who set fire to roughly 30 restrooms between December 2008 and December 2009. These incidents occurred mainly on construction sites in various neighborhoods in San Francisco. No one was ever charged with the crimes, and police believe the fires stopped when the arsonist was picked up for another crime.

Then more restrooms were set ablaze sporadically in 2010 and 2012. And now this one, on Jan. 1. These may be unrelated incidents; but whether it’s one arsonist or a wide variety of vandals, this is a trend we don’t want to see continued.

San Francisco isn’t the only area this is a problem. There were restroom arson incidents in 2010 and 2011 reported in Eagan, Minn., and fires in Seattle in March of 2013. And I’m sure there are plenty of cases that didn’t make the news.

Vandalism of all kinds is a big problem for portable sanitation companies.  And it’s expensive! The cost of removing graffiti can be covered in damage waivers in your customer contracts. Your technicians can spend hours cleaning and repairing restrooms. Units sustaining some minor damage can be repaired and used on construction sites. But a unit that is set on fire is done for good.

Beef up security

Losing portable restrooms to fire is going to set you back. Have you taken measures to prevent this, both on sites and on your own property? A fire on your own lot would be even more devastating.  Here are some arson-prevention tips:

  • Secure, hide or camouflage restrooms on construction sites.
  • Place restrooms in areas that will be lighted during non-work hours.
  • If you don’t have a fence around your business property, strongly consider it. And if you do have one, make sure it’s secure.
  • Get security cameras. These are a crime deterrent and can also help catch the perpetrators after a vandalism incident.
  • Make sure your business insurance will cover replacing your units in the event of a fire.

Have you found a good solution to preventing vandalism and arson? Comment below.


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