Man charged with arson after allegedly burning Hernando County patrol car

Deputies: Arsonist admitted to setting fire to car
Deputies: Arsonist admitted to setting fire to car(WWSB)
Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 5:02 PM EST
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HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) - A Hernando County man was arrested after deputies say he set fire to a deputy’s patrol vehicle.

Multiple 911 calls came in reporting a burning vehicle parked in the parking lot of an apartment complex in the area of Northcliffe Boulevard and Portillo Road in Spring Hill.

Several patrol deputies, along with Hernando County Fire and Emergency Services, arrived on scene and promptly extinguished the fire.

Upon inspection, severe damage was observed in and around the rear passenger portion of the vehicle, near the gas tank. Further investigation revealed trash and other items located directly under the gas tank that deputies believed had been purposely set on fire. Another nearby vehicle parked in close proximity also sustained damage from the fire. That’s when deputies say Anthony Thomas Tarduno returned to the scene and said he started the fire.

During an interview with detectives, Tarduno again admitted to starting the fire. Tarduno told detectives he was “intoxicated” and when he gets “drunk” he does “stupid things.”

Tarduno went on to tell detectives he had been drinking at a bar on Northcliffe Boulevard. He left the bar on foot just before 4:30 p.m. While walking, Tarduno noticed the patrol vehicle and decided he’d like to set it on fire. He went to a nearby dumpster and grabbed a bag of garbage, placed the bag under the patrol vehicle and used a lighter to set it ablaze.

After setting the fire, he returned to the bar, but told deputies he “felt bad” and returned to the scene to confess.

Tarduno was cooperative with the investigation, even telling detectives he was a “professional arsonist” and has been arrested and convicted for similar offenses. Tarduno also stated he did not target the vehicle because it was a patrol car, and any car that had been parked there would have been set on fire. He has been charged with two counts of Arson.