SPRING HILL, FL – On Wednesday, December 7, 2022 just before 5 p.m., 9-1-1 operators began receiving several calls regarding a Vehicle Fire. Callers reported the vehicle was parked in the parking lot of an apartment complex in the area of Northcliffe Boulevard and Portillo Road in Spring Hill, and that the vehicle was a Hernando County Sheriff’s Office marked patrol vehicle.
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, near the back passenger wheel. Detectives believed the items were placed to deliberately set the patrol vehicle on fire.
Another vehicle, personally owned by a resident, which was parked in close proximity to the patrol vehicle, also sustained damage from the fire. As detectives initially began their investigation, a male approached the crime scene and stated he was responsible for setting the fire. The male, later identified as 48 year-old Anthony Tarduno, was detained by patrol deputies.
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.”
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According to authorities, 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. Tarduno then placed the bag under the patrol vehicle and used a lighter to set it ablaze. After setting the fire, Tarduno went back to the bar.
Several minutes later, Tarduno said 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.
Detectives placed Anthony Thomas Tarduno under arrest, charging him with two counts of Arson. His bond was set at $30,000. Hernando County Booking records show Tarduno was arrested in 2018 for Driving While License Suspended or Revoked, 2012 for Arson, and in 2011 for Indecent Exposure. Tarduno remains in the Hernando County Detention Center.