Tampa, FL – Two bicyclists with an alleged history of arson were arrested for allegedly busting out the window of a Tampa police vehicle and setting it ablaze early Monday morning.
The incident began at approximately 1:30 a.m. on Oct. 26, when Tampa police out on patrol spotted two men riding bikes without lights in the area of Bay Boulevard, WFTS reported.
The officers followed the suspects as they rode behind a closed business at Bay to Bay and Manhattan Avenue, The Tampa Bay Times reported.
After stopping the bicyclists, the officers noticed the smell of smoke in the area and soon discovered a Tampa police vehicle burning in a nearby parking lot, according to police.
The front passenger window of the car had been smashed out and the seat was set ablaze, The Tampa Bay Times reported.
Police identified the bicyclists as 31-year-old Matthew Ethridge and 34-year-old Jeremy Penney, both of whom had been arrested for arson offenses in the past, according to police.
Ethridge, who was on probation for four counts of arson and possession or use of a hoax bomb out of Florida at the time of Monday’s incident, was also bleeding from a cut on his hand as he spoke with the officers, WFTS reported.
He claimed that he had cut his hand while rifling through a donation box at a nearby synagogue, according to police.
Investigators found blood on the front passenger door of the patrol vehicle, according to The Tampa Bay Times.
The suspects allegedly admitted that they had broken into the car and set it on fire, WFTS reported.
They have been charged with second-degree arson and burglary of an authorized emergency vehicle.
The damage to the patrol car was estimated to be approximately $3,000.