There had to be a dark side, didn't there, to the way civilians react to high gas prices? While some auto shoppers have gone off to buy smaller, more efficient cars, other people – those who got suckered into thinking they could afford to drive an SUV – have found another way out: insurance fraud through burning their vehicle.

CNN and Edmonds.com reported this interesting story on the rise in SUV arson cases. The case involves a shady new-car dealership in Cerritos, California that helped desperate SUV owners connect with arsonists who would torch the car for $300 left in the glove compartment. The owners would then collect the insurance money and buy another car. A police sting operation stopped the crime ring using a baited SUV with a camera installed. Robert Rowe, arson investigator for the City of Downey and a member of the police task force said, "Because of the way the economy has gone, the gas prices skyrocketing the way they have, we started to see a peak (in arsons). People that had the gas-guzzlers that got eight miles per gallon, they started to get hit hard. They didn't want those cars anymore."

Read on to the original story for more on the history of auto arson when times are bad.

[Source: CNN via Metafilter]