Rio Rancho police investigating speed van fire as an arson

Neighbors say they’re stunned after a speed van in their neighborhood went up in flames. Rio Rancho Police are investigating it as arson. 

People who live nearby say they heard what sounded like a car speeding away and then an explosion.

“What if this thing had exploded and caught a house on fire? What if it had killed somebody? It’s not worth that,” said Robert Jernigan.

Police say last night one of their eight speed vans was set on fire. People who live in the neighborhood near Cherry Road and Unser say the van was there for only four days.

“It is upsetting, it’s very upsetting that somebody would actually do something like this to the extent of torching police property. Especially something that’s meant to help our community,” says Ali Mesta. 

This isn’t the first time a speed van in Rio Rancho has been targeted. In 2017, taggers spray painted an anti-police message on one. Last year people were praising the vandals that torched a speed van.

People in this neighborhood say with the majority of drivers are ignoring the 25 miles per hour speed limit, they were glad to see the speed van here.

“You can tell a difference when the speed van is here. People slow down,” Mesta says. 

Rio Rancho Police say they are committed to the speed vans and don’t plan on letting these sporadic acts of vandalism slow them down.

Rio Rancho fire officials say they have not determined if the three incidents are related. The speed vans do have cameras on them but police have not said if they captured the suspect. 

You might also remember the Santa Fe man who shot up a speed van in 2012. He pled no contest to criminal damage to property and was given a year and a half probation and ordered to pay $4,000 to fix the van. 

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