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Abbotsford woman pleads guilty to theft and fraud charges

An Abbotsford woman has pleaded guilty to seven of the 29 fraud and theft charges she faced after a crime spree that took place in 2011 and 2012.

Michelle Lee La Chapelle, 34, is scheduled for a sentencing hearing on July 14 in Abbotsford provincial court on two counts of theft, two counts of unauthorized use of credit card data and one count each of fraud, possession of a stolen credit card, and possession of property obtained by crime.

The other charges are expected to be stayed.

La Chapelle was charged in September 2012 for offences dating from November 2011 to August 2012.

Following her arrest, Abbotsford Police said she was accused of stealing wallets or purses and then using the credit cards in them – or the information on the cards – to purchase items such as tires, electronics and gift cards.

In one incident, she apparently snatched a toaster that was plugged in at a local recreation centre.

Police at the time were also looking into whether La Chapelle had links to more than a dozen complaints about a woman in her 30s who approached people and claimed she needed cash for a medical emergency or other situations involving her child.

La Chapelle was charged after an Abbotsford Police fraud investigator pieced together several separate incidents and linked them to La Chapelle, using tools such as video surveillance.

She was initially charged with 28 offences, but a 29th charge was later added.

La Chapelle has numerous prior convictions for offences such as theft, fraud, possession of stolen property,  using a stolen credit card and breaching her probation.

In 2006, she receiving an 18-month conditional sentence (house arrest) for a robbery in New Westminster.

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