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
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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)

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