Woman sentenced in 2014 for Abbotsford crime spree now wanted in Chilliwack

RCMP have issued a public noticed seeking information about the whereabouts of Michelle Lee Lachapelle

Michelle Lee Lachapelle

A woman who was sentenced in Abbotsford in 2014 for a crime spree in which she stole wallets and credit cards is wanted by the Chilliwack RCMP.

Police issued an alert on Friday, saying that Michelle Lee Lachapelle, 37, is wanted for fraud under $5,000 and theft under $5,000.

They did not provide specifics about her alleged crimes.

They described her as 5’ 4”, about 160 pounds and with blue eyes and auburn hair.

Lachapelle was sentenced in July 2014 in Abbotsford provincial court to a 15-month conditional sentence (house arrest) for a rash of thefts that occurred in late 2011 and early 2012.

She pleaded guilty to nine charges, including theft, the unauthorized use of credit card data and fraud.

Lachapelle initially faced 29 charges, but several of those charges were merged in court.

The offences encompassed almost a dozen separate incidents in which Lachapelle stole wallets and other items – including cash, iPhones and gift cards – from people whose valuables were put aside at locations such as the Abbotsford Recreation Centre, a hair salon and MSA Arena.

She would then use their credit cards to rack up purchases at various locations. In one instance, Lachapelle purchased $700 in tires and had them installed.

In another, she used one woman’s credit cards to ring up thousands of dollars in purchases, including two $400 gift cards from Sears, more than $1,400 in items from Home Depot, $600 in gas and almost $300 in shoes at The Bay.

Lachapelle also stole the wallet of a teacher who had left her purse in her classroom while she accompanied students to a Christmas concert.

In several of the cases, Lachapelle’s crimes were captured on video surveillance, and police recognized her.

She was also identified through GPS tracking systems on the phones she had stolen, the licence plate of her vehicle, and witness descriptions, through which several people mentioned Lachapelle’s distinctive barbed-wire tattoo on her upper right arm.

At her sentencing hearing, Lachapelle apologized for her offences. Her lawyer said her crimes were impulsive acts of desperation, related to a crack cocaine addiction.

He said she had turned her life around, and had been clean and sober for almost two years. She had moved out of Abbotsford, was attending church and 12-step meetings, and was focused on caring for her five children, her lawyer stated.

The judge at the time said that although he had concerns that a drug relapse could see Lachapelle return to criminal activity, he felt that a sentence served in the community would be best.

Since that time, Lachapelle has been sentenced on another fraud charge, which took place in Hope in February 2015 and for which she received a two-month conditional sentence, according to the provincial court database.

Anyone with information regarding her whereabouts is asked to contact the Chilliwack RCMP at 604-792-4611 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.