Mother of 5 shares ordeal after arsonist sets minivan on fire in SW Miami-Dade

CUTLER BAY, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida mother sprang into action to ensure her family’s safety after, she said, someone set her minivan on fire, and she said it’s not the first time arsonists have targeted her neighborhood.

A neighbor’s home surveillance camera captured the moment the victim’s vehicle was set ablaze outside of her Southwest Miami-Dade home, just before 4 a.m., Sunday.

The van’s owner, a mother of five, said they were all asleep when one of the children heard an explosion and ran to tell her the minivan was on fire.

“The whole front was up in flames,” she said.

The mother, who was too scared to show her face on camera, said she took her children to the backyard and called 911.

“If it wouldn’t have been for my daughter waking us up, it could have been a lot worse,” she said.

Neighbor Johnny Rodriguez’s Ring doorbell camera showed when he sprinted out of his home to help the victim.

“I’m not a hero. It’s my neighbor. This is my family, you know. We live across the street from each other,” he said.

Rodriguez said the mother’s daughter alerted him about the fire.

“The daughter was the one that called me and screamed that the house was on fire, so I ran out, got the water hose, got a little bit of hair burnt, turned it off,” he said.

Surveillance video also captured what appears to be the getaway car, as well as a person crossing the street who is believed to be the subject.

The woman whose minivan was targeted said this isn’t the first time a car in her neighborhood has gone up in flames.

“I did speak to a few neighbors and friends, and yes, I guess they randomly pick the car, and they just set it up on fire as a joke, which is not a joke,” she said. “This could have been worse. It could have been my kids’ lives.”

Now she has a message for the person or people responsible: it needs to stop before somebody gets hurt.

“It’s wrong. Think about your family. Something could have happened to my kids. Just think about — it could have been done to you,” she said. “Just stop it. It’s not a joke. This is not funny.”

If you have any information on this arson, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward of up to $5,000.

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