UPDATE: Thief who stole from volunteer Popkum firefighters found guilty

UPDATE: Thief who stole from volunteer Popkum firefighters found guilty

Lorne Sims to be sentenced in Chilliwack provincial court Jan. 22

Some measure of justice may finally be on the way for Popkum volunteer firefighters brazenly robbed while out on a call in 2016.

A man with a long criminal history was found guilty after a short trial in Chilliwack provincial court on Dec. 6 to one count of theft $5,000 or under, and one count posses/use a stolen credit card.

Lorne James Sims (Facebook)

Lorne James Sims is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 22 for stealing from the volunteer firefighters’ vehicles on Aug. 5, 2016.

[Ed note: An earlier version of this story said Sims pleaded guilty. He pleaded not guilty and was found guilty by a judge.]

• READ MORE: Popkum fire hall hit by thieves while on call

Sims contacted The Progress on Jan. 5 to complain about the Dec. 11 story that incorrectly said he pleaded guilty. Sims insisted the only reason he was found guilty was because of his prior record.

“Circumstantial evidence gave me the guilty verdict by a judge,” Sims wrote via email. “If this case was in front of a jury the results would be different I’m sure.”

The crime struck a chord in the community, prompting Timothy Christian students to host a fundraiser where they raised more than $9,000 to help replace stolen items.

• READ MORE: Firewash fundraiser a huge success for Popkum firefighters

Described at the time as a new low, even for thieves, the Popkum Fire Hall was actually struck twice.

On one call, volunteers responded to a 2 a.m. page for a crash on the highway involving two trucks. They raced to the hall, suited up, jumped in their trucks, and headed to the rescue.

Meanwhile, back at the hall, someone took the opportunity to loot their vehicles and take off with wallets, cell phones, work tools and other personal belongings. They also stole pagers and radios belonging to the firehall.

“Seven of our personal vehicles were broken into,” said firehall secretary Jan Bosman in 2016.

And then, while the crew was out on an all-day call a few days later that closed the highway for hours, thieves struck again.

In the wake of the thefts, the department considered leaving one firefighter at the hall to watch over belongings.

“Which is ridiculous,” Bosman says. “That we might lose resources like this. But if we have a call and it’s in the middle of night we are forced to leave one of the members to watch over the hall.”

Sims is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 22.

– with files from Jessica Peters