July 3, 2010
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — Thanks to a tip from a convenience store clerk, Santa Cruz Police arrested the suspected arsonist early Saturday morning who attempted to set the office of the city attorney the night before.
Miguel Balderos, 52, was arrested outside the 7-11 on Mission St. after the store’s clerk recognized Balderos from a picture in the Santa Cruz Sentinel and reported him to the police.
Police arrested Balderos without incident and took him to the station to be questioned, where he admitted to starting the fire.
“Mr. Balderos made admissions to the arson and indicated the motive was to protest the city’s municipal ordinance prohibiting overnight camping in public; commonly referred to as the ‘camping ban,’” said a press release from the Santa Cruz Police, released Saturday.
Investigators said that around 4 a.m. Friday, Balderos, set a recycling bin on fire and pushed it up against the attorney’s door
Surveillance video captured Balderos in the act and authorities immediately recognized him because he has been involved in many anti-government movements.
“We’ve arrested him from crimes ranging from simple trespassing to burglary, to assault with a deadly weapon,” said Capt. Steve Clark of the Santa Cruz Police on Friday. ”We know he has affiliated himself with anarchist groups as well as an anti-government group here in the Santa Cruz area.”
Before starting the fire, Balderos posted fliers around the city that advertised an upcoming protest against the camping ordinance.
Earlier this week the sidewalk entrance to the attorney’s office was vandalized with graffiti that included a swastika and anarchy symbol. Police were looking into whether Balderos or any other anarchist groups are responsible for that crime as well.
Recently there has been an increase in anti government rhetoric in the city, according to police. Earlier this month, anti-police fliers were posted in a neighborhood encouraging people to take justice into their own hands. And in May, police say anarchist groups were responsible for rioting and vandalism on Pacific Avenue, a popular shopping area.
“Anytime we see this type of targeted and focused attacks toward the community we’re very concerned,” said Clark.