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New Mexico speed camera van catches fire, police say could be arson

For people in Rio Rancho, seeing speed vans around the city is normal and it seems like many people aren't fans of them

Jeannie Nguyen, KRQE - RIO RANCHO, NM (KRQE) - The speed vans in Rio Rancho, New Mexico are controversial -- either you love them or you hate them. It appears someone who falls into the second category torched one of them.

"I hate them. I hate them," Renee Wilkins said.

"I, personally, would like to see them go away," Chuck Wilkins said.

For people in Rio Rancho, seeing speed vans around the city is normal and it seems like many people aren't fans of them.

"Making it everywhere and everywhere you turn around, you see them daily. I think it's just gone too far," Chuck said.

Late Wednesday night, people saw one of those speed vans, clearly out of service.

"One of those vehicles that was on a neighborhood street in the city of Rio Rancho did catch fire," Captain Ron Vigil said.

While this is the first time a speed van has caught on fire, this isn't the first time they've been a target of vandalism. Last April, taggers spray painted phallic images and an anti-police message on one of the vehicles.

While it doesn't happen often, Rio Rancho police say it puts a damper on their job.

"It does diminish our ability to respond to citizen's request. They call and express that they have individuals speeding down the street by their home," Vigil said.

Police say the fire destroyed the speed van but they're not calling it arson just yet. They say it's possible the speed van was a victim of an electrical fire.

Either way, a lot of people in Rio Rancho aren't too upset about the loss.

"I'm sure that there are a lot of people out there that if they saw it, they were rooting for them," Renee said.

"I understand the frustration. I think a lot of people out there are going to look at it and say, 'Good job,'" Chuck said.

Rio Rancho police are still investigating and are looking for tips.

But speeders beware -- Rio Rancho still has seven speed vans around the city. Police also want to replace the one that just burned.

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