Galveston man charged with setting HPD officer's car on fire
Updated 1:19 pm, Tuesday, March 26, 2013
A Galveston man is accused of stealing a Houston police officer's car, setting it on fire and stealing his police-issued equipment.
Robert Basaldua, 27, is in custody and charged with arson, court records show. He is accused of starting a fire on March 17 by igniting paper with intent to destroy the vehicle of a Houston Police Department officer.
Police and fire officials who arrived on the scene saw a 2006 Dodge Stratus with fire damage in the passenger compartment. Fire crews said the hood was up with windshield wipers on and smoke coming from the passenger compartment. No one was in or around the vehicle and the key remained in the ignition.
Investigators determined the fire, which burned portions of the front seat and other parts of the car, was intentionally set.
The car belonged to an HPD officer, whose stepdaughter loaned the car to her boyfriend, Basaldua, while her parents were out of town. She told police that he never returned the vehicle.
The officer's car had a $5,000 police-issued radio, a duty belt valued at $100, a baton that cost $50, handcuffs valued at $50 and two weapon magazines worth $50. None of the items were left in the vehicle when it was set on fire and abandoned, investigators said.
The officer's stepdaughter told investigators that she and Basaldua drove around the day before the fire and he dropped her off at Joe's Crab Shack, where she works. He told her he would pick her up at 4 p.m. but never showed up to get her, she told police. She told police she called and texted him several times to return the vehicle. She initially reported the vehicle stolen because she did not want to anger her parents, investigators said.
Court records show that Basaldua sent text messages to his girlfriend saying he would "take care of it" when she told him she was going to report the car stolen. He also told her to "Stick to the story" and "Don't budge," according to investigators.
In a separate incident in Galveston on March 18, police responded when another girlfriend of Basaldua's was held at gunpoint by him before he fled the scene. He was arrested for that incident. Galveston police officers uncovered the police officer's equipment at the property hidden in an air vent at the property.
Houston police officers working the arson case discovered he was already in custody in Galveston. He confessed to setting the officer's car on fire.
He is in custody being held with no bail.