After being the victim of an alleged arson in 2015 and an obvious arson caught on video in 2019, Greendale resident Chris Thompson spent more than $30,000 on security cameras and lights making his property look like an airport runway. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

VIDEO: Chilliwack arson victim lights up rural property like a runway

Chris Thompson had enough after twice having barns torched in suspicious circumstances

As dusk sets in on the west side of Chilliwack, the rural neighbourhood of Greendale slips into the usual darkness of farm country.

But the security lights that spark up on one property resemble an airport runway, lighting up the night sky visible from Highway 1 making the adjacent Petro-Pass Truck Stop look dim.

That’s Chris Thompson’s place, and he’s tired of twice having barns on his property the target of unrelated alleged arsonists.

Thompson has several chicken barns on his Chadsey Road property but he has no chicken quota, so he has rented them out over the years for various purposes. In 2015, he rented it out to people running a legal cannabis grow operation. He evicted them in March 2015 for being “hopelessly in arrears” on rent, then on April 6 the barn was destroyed by fire.

A few months after that, his home was subject to a break-and-enter with a number of items stolen, and his office trashed.

At that time, the Chilliwack Fire Department said the marijuana growing was indeed legal, but the fire was determined to be accidental, despite Thompson’s claims to the contrary.

Back then he created a website in an attempt to shame the alleged culprits into paying their debt to him. It didn’t work. He also installed more than $10,000 in lights and cameras on the property for security.

• READ MORE: Public shaming: for a Chilliwack landlord an attempt to get what’s owing from deadbeat tenants

A year after that, Thompson was renting a barn out to other people, one of whom he was in business with buying from auctions and reselling items. A falling out occurred, and Thompson ordered one individual who had been living in the barn out.

“The barn started flooding and he lost it on me, accusing me of being responsible for goods that might be damaged,” Thompson said. “By December [2016] I said he can’t stay here. We can’t have people living in a barn.”

There were some disputes since then, then some reconciliation, but things did not end well. Then on April 11, 2019 Thompson was again struck by an alleged arson. His security cameras captured a grainy image of an individual walking across his back field after 4 a.m. The person is seen right up next to the barn when there is a flash of orange, the person runs off, and the barn goes up in flames.

And while Thompson insists he knows who is responsible for the fire, his video wasn’t good enough to identify anyone, and after months of investigating, the case has gone cold.

“After collecting all the evidence there is not enough to proceed further with the file,” Chilliwack RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Mike Rail said.

Frustrated with twice being hit with arson, Thompson has ramped up his security to extreme levels. Spending more than $30,000 on lights and new cameras, he’s also edited his website, chilliwackthieves.com, with a $2,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and a charge.

He thinks the guy who did it has a big mouth, and likely bragged about the arson.

“Before this, people would know me as the guy with all the lights,” Thompson said. “Now I’ve just taken the amount of lumens to the next level, and just gone nuts.”

Adding all his technology together, he has more than 800,000 lumens of lights on his property on more than 20 light stands, and more cameras on the way.

Asked about the security set-up, Cpl. Rail said that lighting up a property is a good first step.

“He’s on track that way for security,” Rail said, adding that in rural areas it often comes down to neighbours being vigilant. “When people see a car coming down back roads, or someone in the middle of the night walking down the roads. Rurally it’s a challenge and it comes down to neighbours looking out for neighbours.”

Thompson’s lights have, however, been the subject of complaints to city hall, something that is yet to be resolved. He said he’s invited someone from city hall to come and tell him which ones are the offensive lights. He said he’s been experimenting and admits some were “possibly too obnoxious” and he took them down over Christmas.

• RELATED: Policing the rural areas around Chilliwack and other cities taking a heavy toll


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

@PeeJayAitch
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

An early morning fire at one of Greendale resident Chris Thompson’s chicken barns on April 11, 2019. Thompson has grainy security footage showing a person lighting the fire. (Chris Thompson)

Just Posted

Abbotsford politicians and city staff to consider cash-flow questions, tax deferments

Mayor says it’s unclear how many residents and business owners will be able to pay taxes on time

Sex offender charged again less than two months after prison release

Taylor Dueck, who was living in Mission, has history of sex assaults in Abbotsford

Cop who lives in Mission awarded almost $3.2 million for 2 car crashes

Jeffery Neufeldt was injured on the job in collisions in 2013 and 2016

Charity website hopes to help Abbotsford food bank

Residents urged to post their stuff for sale and donate proceeds

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

B.C. records first at-home death from COVID-19, but 70+ hospital patients have recovered

Total of 970 novel coronavirus cases in B.C., with the majority in the Lower Mainland area

BC Ferries able to restrict travel for sick passengers

Ferries working on schedule shifts to keep workers safe

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Pay parking suspended at B.C. hospitals due to COVID-19

Temporary free parking reduces need for keypads, contact

Helping those at risk, one piece of paper at a time through ‘isolation communication’

Simple paper tool during pandemic making its way across Canada thanks to social media.

‘Back to school, in a virtual way’ for B.C. students in COVID-19 pandemic

Province adds online resources to help parents at home

Canadian COVID-19 round-up: Air Canada cuts 15,000 jobs, 90% of flights

Comprehensive Canadian news update as of 2:30 p.m., Monday, March 30.

Most Read