A 24-year-old Hawthorne man was in custody Thursday evening, suspected of arson for allegedly setting a Hawthorne Police Department SUV on fire.

Officers noticed a man on security video as he loitered in the 12500 block of Hawthorne Boulevard, directly in front of department headquarters, about 12:15 a.m., then spotted an unoccupied parked patrol vehicle near the suspicious suspect was fully engulfed in flames, according to a statement from police.

The suspect was detained by officers without incident moments later and a review of security camera footage confirmed the suspect, identified as Elmer Maldanado, doused the patrol vehicle with an unknown liquid and lit it on fire, the statement said.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department responded and extinguished the flames, but the SUV was a total loss, police said.

Anyone who witnessed this arson was asked to call the HPD Detective Bureau at 310-349-2820.

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