Illinois Woman Charged With Destroying Her Own Car With A Flamethrower



I am not sure what is more surprising. First, Julie Gagne, 47, was charged with destroying her own Infiniti SUV.  Then, it was revealed that she allegedly did the act with a flamethrower. Finally, and this is probably the most surprising, flamethrowers are legal in Illinois.




Gagne of Barrington claimed that she found her car missing after leaving a restaurant.  She filed a stolen car report for the missing 2016 Infiniti QX70.

The vehicle was later found burning in Barrington.  Nearby was a flamethrower.  It was later determined that Gagne bought the flamethrower online from XMatter in Ohio.  It is an expensive way to torch a car.  It sells for $1600.  It can send the mixture of three gallons of fuel and napalm as far as 50 feet.


It is perfectly legal in Illinois to own one of these things.

However, torching your car and lying about it is not.  She is now charged with an assortment of crimes including  arson, disorderly conduct, and filing a false police report.

If true, it is curious how Gagne thought she would get away with a story that fails to account for security cameras around a restaurant or the dropping of the flamethrower — let alone residue at the scene identifying the product that she purchased on the Internet.


21 thoughts on “Illinois Woman Charged With Destroying Her Own Car With A Flamethrower”

  1. I would let her off with probation and duty to clean the streets for one month in lieu of time in jail.
    The flame thrower should be given to the March of Dimes.

  2. Wow. She must have really hated that car. My parents still despise Pontiacs today because decades ago, they bought the Car of the Year, which happened to be a Pontiac. I do not know the model because if I bring up the make, they will spend 15 minutes describing their abiding hatred for the brand. That car had some sort of internal sensor so that when you got outside of a 5 mile radius of a service station, it would die. It would’t turn left without stalling. It stranded my mother with her baby repeatedly, which my father will never forgive. If it wasn’t uncouth, he would spit when he said Pontiac. There’s brand recognition for you. Hopefully the manufacturer has recovered its quality since then.

    Of course she should be held accountable for filing a false police report, filing a fraudulent claim against her insurance, and for being generally ignorant enough to orchestrate her own demise so thoroughly. If you’re going to commit a crime with that extensive of a trail of proof, then you deserve to go to jail on principle.

    That said, of course flame throwers should not be made illegal because she used one to illegally torch her car. Small handheld models are routinely used to destroy weeds in non-drought states. They are used in many other applications, as well, believe it or not, including the movie industry, testing of fire proof materials, controlled burns, among others. Some states require permits, and of course no incendiary device may be used in drought states such as CA.

    It really is best to have laws against harming someone that try to ban each and every tool possible to do so. How do you ban rocks? It is illegal to stab someone but they still sell knives. I can make a trebuchet but it would be illegal to hurl a boulder at someone. I could make my own Iron Maiden if I wanted to recreate the decor of Despicable Me, but it would be illegal for me to use it on anyone. Iron Maiden manufacture does not need to be banned.

    1. ” That car had some sort of internal sensor so that when you got outside of a 5 mile radius of a service station, it would die.”

      Hmmmm … that’s really advanced technology for the time. You’re crackin’ me up, KS.

  3. The only way to stop a bad person with a flamethrower, is with a good person with a flamethrower.

  4. There are YouTube videos of people using flamethrowers to destroy wasp nests. Sometimes with unintended consequences…..

  5. 40 states expressly allow flamethrowers and so does the Geneva Convention! Only California and Maryland ban them outright. Great for burning brush and even better for burning enemies…actually, the US Army should bring them back to clean out ISIS fanatics. My dad fought in the Battle of Manila during WWII. The US Army used flamethrowers there a great deal. “We went building by building, floor by floor, room by room. Kicked in the door, stuck in the flamethrower nozzle and burned them alive. The most horrible weapon anyone might imagine,” said my dad. In fact, he thought that the Geneva Convention rules were ridiculous since the rules banned a “dumb dumbed” bullet but allowed the flamethrower.

    1. Fascinating info Warren. I know a guy who does controlled agricultural burns. He uses one.

    2. My understanding is that weaponized flamethrowers were taken out of service in the US by an executive order of President Ford.

  6. It looks dangerous. What if a deer-hunter hit the fuel-mixture tank with a stray bullet while the prescribed-burn specialist was wearing it? Besides, don’t they have smaller, hand-held torches for prescribed burns? They have to make a fire break first; don’t they? If they set the whole prairie ablaze, then they’d need a hot-rod ATV to outrun the wildfire. Or something. [Disclaimer: Country boy claims I don’t know what I’m talking about—(something about pumper trucks siphoning the catfish pond, or whatever)].

    1. Diane – controlled burns are used in town in the more rural area (horse privileges, etc.) to get rid of the weeds. You do need a permit though.

  7. City boy, country boy. JT someone has to start those fires for controlled burns of weeds. You think they are using matches? You have really got to get out in middle America and learn what real life is about. The whole world does not revolve around D.C.

    Now, none of the above has anything this woman torching her own car and blaming it on someone else. She is a bad Doobee. Miss Patty would not like her when she looked in her magic Romper Room mirror.

    1. I am sure that there are many city boys and gals who would have been able to assist Julie Gagne in getting rid of her too expensive Infinity and collecting the insurance money, all without the very expensive device. I am not advocating for criminal activity, just pointing out that some people in DC do know how to get things done.

      1. Laura Jean Stark – I have no doubt there are some effective car thieves in DC. 😉 I am just pointing out that JT’s life may be too insular. 🙂

  8. I have never heard of a flamethrower feloniously used against another person in the United States despite the fact that such devices are used in agriculture. How can politicians articulate a need to regulate everything when there has been no demonstrated threat to society. For the argument that forms of this device were used as weapons of war, the same could be argued about jeeps and knives which kill and injury by felonious means a measurable number of individuals.

    There have been more people killed by teenagers throwing cinderblocks from overpasses onto highways than have been killed by flamethrowers. Are we going to outlaw cinderblocks as building materials? Sound absurd? It’s the same thing actually–increasing micromanagement by politicians.

  9. Well, it sure beats a shotgun with buckshot.

    Virtually no recoil and light enough, even a lady can handle it.

    Why doesn’t every family have one of these?

    1. I’m sure Popiel will start including one free with every pocket fisherman next week. The NRA will sponsor National Flamethrower Safety Week. You can burn your car and your old flame at the same time you make toast.

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