A $500 reward has been handed over to a man who called the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office Arson Hotline to report a case of arson. According to the Insurance Council of Texas, the phone call led to the arrest and conviction of 26 year-old Laurie Granado of Austin on charges of first-degree arson.
It is the first cash reward to be given to an informant since the program was created in 2000.
Austin firefighters extinguished the smoldering remains of a $23,000 Lincoln Town Car in a remote area of south Austin on April 28, 2002. The inside of the vehicle had been doused with gasoline. The vehicle had not been reported stolen until minutes before AFD’s Captain of Investigations Aaron Woolverton placed a call to the Granado residence inquiring about their car.
Several days later Granado finally agreed to meet with fire investigators at her home after dark. She was dressed in a long sleeved shirt, which hid her flash burns. Investigators had ended the case until an anonymous caller told fire investigators that Granada had set the car on fire and had been burned in the process.
Austin fire investigators checked medical records showing Granado had been treated for burns. Two months after setting her car on fire, Granado was arrested.
“Just getting one case solved off an arson tip has made the Arson Hotline Reward completely worth it to us,” said Woolverton. “We’ll take any help we can get.”
The arson hotline debuted May 1, 2000, and has generated valuable calls that have been turned over to state and local arson investigators.
Cash rewards were offered as an incentive for people to call the arson hotline shortly after Texas Insurance Commissioner Jose Montemayor announced the start of the program. The reward system was the brainchild of the State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) and A Texas Advisory Council on Arson (ATAC), a group of fire, law enforcement and insurance investigators who advise the SFMO on matters pertaining to arson investigations. Higher rewards are offered to callers who assist arson investigators on fires involving injuries or fatalities.
In October 2003, Granado pled guilty and received a 10 year probated sentence. A Travis County District Court Judge also ordered her to provide restitution to her insurance carrier for the cost of a rental car for one month as well as provide community service.
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