Man charged with arson at car dealership: Indiana cops

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A 79-year-old man faces four counts of arson in Indiana after setting fire to four cars at two car dealerships, officials say.

A man is accused of setting fire to vehicles at two dealerships, according to Indiana officials.

The 79-year-old is charged with four counts of arson after he was seen on video around 1 a.m. July 17 at the O’Daniel used car lot in Fort Wayne, according to an affidavit.

The man told the Fort Wayne Police Department he started the fires to get revenge on the dealership, who he said sold him a Jeep with a bad engine and ‘refused to do it right’ by 1986.

“It was time for the chickens to go back to the roost,” the man told Fort Wayne police, according to the affidavit.

Video footage shows the man opening the fuel door of a 2019 Jeep Compass and placing a flaming flare inside the fuel tube, according to the affidavit. The man then drove off the lot in his car as the Jeep was engulfed in flames.

The fire grew and ignited vehicles on either side of the Jeep, including a 2013 GMC Acadia and a 2020 Jeep Cherokee. All three vehicles, worth more than $70,000 combined, were destroyed in the fire.

After leaving the used car park, the affidavit says the man drove to a second O’Daniel dealership in Fort Wayne. There, the man used a knife to open the roof of a 2008 Pontiac Solstice Base Convertible before dropping a flaming flare through the roof slot to the driver’s seat.

The eruption caused the driver’s seat to catch fire and created heat and smoke damage inside the car, according to the affidavit. Damage to the convertible exceeded its value at $12,823.

The man also told officers that shortly after buying his Jeep in 1986, he placed Loctite, Super Glue and another accelerator in the door locks of cars at an O’Daniel lot.

Looking at the footage, the man identified himself to police and said he was upset he couldn’t watch the fires he started, the affidavit says. After seeing the damage to the convertible, the man told police, “That’s all he did.”

Moira Ritter covers real-time news for McClatchy. She graduated from Georgetown University where she studied government, journalism and German. Previously, she reported for CNN Business.