The public is doing what it can to help Vernon RCMP solve a recent arson case.
A fire was set at the rear of Aj’s Pets and Things on 31st Avenue in downtown Vernon in the early morning of Sept. 6.
The store posted clear video footage from one of its surveillance cameras that show a man carrying a backpack in the alley behind the store. A shorter version of the video is available at ww.vernonmorningstar.com
Since posting on Facebook, the video has been viewed 68,000 times, and shared on the social media site by more than 2500 people.
“The owners (of the store) are well within their right to release video, it is their personal property,” said Vernon RCMP Const. Jocelyn Noseworthy.
“We’re always quite grateful to any help the public is willing to offer to help us solve crimes.”
The video post has generated tips to the detachment.
“It’s an excellent video, really clear, and we hope someone recognizes him,” said Noseworthy.
“Tips are coming in and we’ve been following up on a few. We are hoping one leads to the identity or the location of this person.”
Noseworthy described the man in the video as a “person of interest,” and that the police would like to speak to him.
Noseworthy also stated the man in the video is not related to the two men arrested and convicted in connection with a similar arson at Aj’s Pets and Things in 2014, nor is the man believed to be related to a string of unsolved arsons in Greater Vernon throughout the summer of 2014.
“It’s an extensive investigation into those arsons, and just the way it was done, as well as quite a few other factors, that leads us to believe it’s probably not related,” said Noseworthy.
The pet store also posted on its Facebook page another video of a man shown trying to put out the fire before Vernon Fire Rescue Services arrived on the scene.
Noseworthy said the man has been spoken to and has been ruled out as a suspect in the fire.
It’s also too early to speculate, said Noseworthy, if the recent Aj’s Pets and Things fire is connected to a suspicious fire Saturday night behind the Vernon Curling Club.
The RCMP and fire department were dispatched to a report of a fire just before midnight.
“Vernon Fire Rescue Services was on-scene extinguishing a fire that started in a pile of merchandising display panels that were in the rear parking lot,” said Noseworthy.
The fire caused damage to the panels but was extinguished before anything else was damaged.
“It’s too early to speculate whether the fires are associated,” said Noseworthy. “The one at the curling club is still in the preliminary stages of the investigation.
The curling club also has surveillance cameras, and investigations have been scanning the footage to see if anything was caught on tape.
If anyone has information on either fire, or the identity of the individual in the Aj’s Pets and Things video, please call the Vernon RCMP detacthment at 250-545-7171, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.