Automobile fires in the Netherlands are rising at an alarming rate, according to local media.
Dutch insurance companies have reported a 9 percent increase in car fires from 2017 to 2018, as 4,359 such claims were filed in 2018, up from 4,014 in 2017.
"The number of car fires in the Netherlands increased by no less than 45 percent in the past five years," NL Times reports. "The provinces of Utrecht, Groningen and Zeeland in particular are seeing more and more cars set alight by vandals and arsonists."
Some 40 to 50 million euros of damage are being inflicted upon vehicles annually, insurers say.
"We have been thinking about it for a long time, but we can not explain it very well,” says Richard Weurding, managing director of the Dutch Association of Insurers. "If a car burns down, that is the conversation of the day in a community. That has a big impact, especially if it's your own car."
Weurding says the association is acutely concerned about electric autos, as their batteries create substantially more toxic waste when incinerated.
"Electric cars contain a lot more batteries and therefore a lot more chemicals," he said. "That requires a completely different expertise and also costs more to extinguish such a car and to dispose of the material in a safe way."
The association urged drivers to park in 'well-lit places' in order to deter arsonists.
"Municipalities and the police are doing everything they can to tackle this seriously," the association said. "But at the same time it is very difficult to tackle because the fires are often lit during the night hours. And it is important that witnesses come forward if they saw something."
"Do not opt for a remote place, but for a well-lit place that is not too out of the way."
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(PHOTO: GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images)