A Mission woman has been charged with five counts of theft, after multiple Royal Canadian Legion poppy boxes were stolen in the Fraser Valley east of Vancouver last November.
A warrant is now out for the arrest of Lisa Marie Goddard, 30, who is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from Remembrance Day donation boxes on November 10.
'The symbolism of the poppy makes the thefts that much more heinous'
- Const. Ian MacDonald
Abbotsford police say the charges were approved based on video surveillance of the distraction thefts, which took place in four locations on McCallum Road and a farm market on Clayburn Road.
Const. Ian MacDonald said there were also reports of more poppy box thefts from the surrounding areas.
"It's disappointing, but police in the Lower Mainland have taken reports of donation box thefts from various charities," he said.
"Unfortunately, people desperate or lacking a moral compass see cash on the counter and they feel inclined given the opportunity to steal it."
MacDonald believes most people recognize the purpose and the meaning behind the donation boxes, which is what makes the crimes even more heinous.
"The response was immediate from the legion and the public, in terms of complete disbelief that someone would engage in this type of behaviour," said MacDonald.
MacDonald emphasized that the police embarked on a comprehensive and detailed investigation of all thefts reported and trawled through many hours of surveillance video to secure the charges.
"It's pretty damning evidence when your image is on the video and you are walking out of the convenience store with the box under your arm.
"That coupled with cooperation from citizens and employees in those locations, who helped us with identification through photo lineups and many hours of support from the legion."
No money has been recovered from the thefts, but Goddard is known to police and MacDonald says he is confident she will be located quickly.