There’s a large cash reward waiting for anyone who can ID the arsonist who torched a North Vancouver tow yard last fall.
Crime Stoppers, North Vancouver RCMP and Mitchell’s Towing announced $30,000 to anyone who can provide information that leads to an arrest and conviction, even if the tipster wishes to remain anonymous.
In the early morning of Sept. 25, 2020, a suspect gained access to the fenced compound on Welch Street and set two tow trucks ablaze, which then spread to several other impounded cars.
First responders were on the scene within seven minutes, but by then, the fire had done more than $750,000 in damages, said Mitchell Martin, owner of Mitchell’s towing.
Video released by Crime Stoppers on Tuesday shows the masked suspect calmly approach one of the trucks, smash the window, light a Molotov cocktail and then throw it inside, causing a massive fireball.
Police have twice appealed for witnesses and tips, but none has led to an arrest.
“We've hit a dead end,” said Sgt. Peter DeVries, North Vancouver RCMP spokesman. “We have not been able to identify who is responsible for this.”
Based on the video, investigators believe they are looking for a male of average height and build. At the time, the suspect was carrying a black backpack with a red bottle in the side pocket. Their face was covered by a surgical mask.
Crime Stoppers already offers up to $5,000 for tips that lead to an arrest and conviction but Mitchell’s Towing owner Mitchell Martin is putting up another $25,000 of his own cash to see someone brought to justice.
“It is very distressing for our staff and us as business owners,” he said. “The suspect responsible for this fire is still at large and it's very concerning to us. It jeopardizes the safety for our staff, our clients and for the community at large.”
DeVries said investigators can’t say who may be considered persons of interest or what their motivation might be, but Martin said it was telling that they targeted the truck used to clear crashes and stalls from Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing.
“I have a gut feeling of who I think it potentially could be,” he said. “I believe it's a business thing. I don't think it's a personal vendetta.”
Crime Stoppers executive director Linda Annis stressed that tips can be delivered completely anonymously and police will never know who came forward.
“In more than 35 years, Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers has never identified anyone who's given us information. Your anonymity is guaranteed by the Supreme Court of Canada,” she said.
DeVries made both a moral and financial appeal to the person out there who can help solve the case.
“Somebody knows. Somebody has information. … You can help solve this. You can help right the wrong that's been done. Clear your conscience. You can do the right thing,” he said. “There's $30,000 on the table – $30,000 All you have to do is make a phone call.”
Anyone with information about the case can contact Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers anonymously through Crime Stoppers’ downloadable “P3” app for Apple and Android phones, calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222- 8477, online at solvecrime.ca, or via Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers Facebook and Twitter pages.