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Date of Issue: August 11, 2010

Automobile set on fire in Holmes Beach

A carport secured by caution tape at a condominium at 5400 Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach was the scene of an early-morning car fire July 29. Islander Photo: Nick Walter

Someone allegedly set fire to a 2000 Mercedes-Benz owned by a Wisconsin resident early July 29 at the 5400 condominium building, 5400 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.

Kurt Lathrop, deputy fire marshal at West Manatee Fire Rescue, responded to a call of a vehicle on fire at 5:23 a.m. Lathrop said that when he arrived, the vehicle, parked under a carport, was on fire.

Lathrop ruled the incident arson. A suspect has not yet been named.

“We’re just building a case and getting all the information we need to start working any leads (the owner) might be able to put us onto,” Lathrop said.

Lathrop said arson typically is a financially motivated crime. For example, someone can have another person set fire to their vehicle so that the owner can collect insurance money.

In this latest case with the Mercedes-Benz, the owner could not have gained anything financially by having his vehicle set ablaze because he had only storage insurance on the vehicle.

Lathrop said, “We’re seeing an influx in arson cases because of foreclosures and people losing their jobs.”

“There’s no question this gentleman was targeted,” Lathrop said. “It wasn’t a random case where somebody was saying, ‘Let’s drive to Holmes Beach at 5:23 in the morning,’ and they happened to pick that vehicle under that carport. Somebody has something against this guy, and we’re trying to find what that is.”

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