British Columbia

Prince George RCMP arrest suspect fleeing on ice floe

Prince George RCMP say a woman wanted in a rural break and enter fled the scene on a river ice floe and tried to burn evidence of her crime by starting a fire on the ice.

Alleged thief on ice floe floats 2 km down river before starting fire to 'burn evidence'

RCMP in Prince George allege a suspected thief fled the crime scene on an ice floe and made it two kilometres down the Nechako River. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC )

With Prince George RCMP in hot pursuit, an accused thief fled the scene of her alleged crime Sunday on an ice floe. 

RCMP Corporal Craig Douglass says the 25 year old woman floated two kilometres down the frigid Nechako River atop the piece of ice before a police dog tracked her down. 

"She was located on a piece of ice on the Nechako River, which, at the best of times, is a dangerous place, much less in the winter with all the ice," said Douglass.

That's when things took an even stranger turn.

[The suspect] was located on a piece of ice on the Nechako River... She'd started a fire.- RCMP Corporal Craig Douglass

Fire atop the ice floe

The woman had started a fire atop the ice floe she was sitting on, said Douglass. 

"We believe she was trying to destroy evidence." 

Douglass says the ice floe was close enough to shore that a Mountie and police dog were able to reach the woman and arrest her, even as she resisted arrest. 

Local boaters offered to transport the officer, the police dog and the suspect back up river, where police vehicles were waiting, to avoid a 2 kilometre hike through the bush.

Philicity Rhea Lafrenier has been charged with break and enter, mischief, possession of property obtained by crime, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and resisting arrest.

Police say the pursuit began after a homeowner returned home to her Christopher Street house in rural Miworth, west of Prince George, midday Sunday and found an intruder inside. Police say the intruder fled the scene in a stolen pickup truck, drove to the nearby river and then jumped on the ice floe.

With police on the way and only one road in and out of the rural community, Douglass believes the woman may have just chosen an alternate escape route.

"It's definitely a first. It's something we've never come across and probably never will again in our careers," said Corporal Craig Douglass. "We just shake our heads."


Betsy Trumpener

Reporter-Editor, CBC News

Betsy Trumpener has won numerous journalism awards, including a national network award for radio documentary and the Adrienne Clarkson Diversity Award. Based in Prince George, B.C., Betsy has reported on everything from hip hop in Tanzania to B.C.'s energy industry and the Paralympics.