A DOG walker has spoken of her ‘utter shock’ after the van she relies on for work was set alight by vandals outside her house - while she and her family watched television inside.

Vandals were caught on CCTV setting fire to the van, belonging to self-employed dog walker Clare Marples, at around 8.45pm on Sunday.

Clare and her family, of Cherry Tree Street, Elsecar, immediately saw the fire, which lit up the street - but by the time they had gone out to see what happenned, the firebugs had left and the front of her Mercedes Vito van had been scorched.

“I was watching TV with my other half and the front door suddenly went orange,” said Clare, 50.

“There was such a loud bang, we thought somebody had been shot.

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“It was utter shock on a Sunday evening after a really nice day, settled at home with a bottle of wine. And it was in such close proximity to the house.

“It could’ve exploded, they could’ve even have hurt themselves. They’re thugs, what else can I call them.”

Clare said two of the men ‘shot off straight away’ in the white Suzuki car they are believed to have arrived in, while one was chased by a neighbour on foot but got away.

The gang left a baseball bat on the street, which was handed in to police.

“All the neighbours came out in their dressing gowns with buckets of water,” said Clare.

“They were amazing, I can’t thank them enough.”

Clare is in the process of getting back to work having cancelled clients the following day, but added the family are ‘paranoid’ following the incident.

“Hoyland and Elsecar are getting pretty badly hit lately,” she said.

“I’ve been going round seeing if anyone has CCTV, and down the local pubs asking if anyone knows anything.

“I’ve never had a cross word with anybody, I’ve never cut anyone up.

“There’s no rhyme or reason to it.”