Charges have been laid in the theft of several poppy collection boxes in the Chilliwack area.
Last Wednesday it was reported that six of the poppy containers had been stolen from Vedder Road businesses over the span of just a few days.
Two days later, in the early morning hours of Friday, around 2: 30 a.m., an employee of a Ved-der Road Tim Horton's spied a man and woman attempting to steal the shop's poppy box.
Police were called and a man and a woman were arrested outside the restaurant.
Milton Gabriel, 40, was arrested on two outstanding warrants. Police say he later admitted to stealing several boxes around Chilliwack.
Gabriel has been charged with
four counts of theft under $5,000. He's scheduled to appear in court next Monday, where it's expected he will enter a guilty plea.
A 43-year-old Chilliwack woman, was released on a promise to appear in court at a later date.
"The investigation is ongoing to find out exactly how many collection boxes have been stolen in the Chilliwack area and how many Gabriel is responsible for stealing," RCMP Cpl. Tammy Hollingsworth said. "The total dollar amount that was stolen will be difficult to determine, but thankfully Gabriel has held himself accountable for these crimes."
Fortunately, the theft of the collection boxes has been countered by an outpouring of community support for the Royal Canadian Legion's poppy initiative.
The poppy program co-oridinator for the legion's Vedder branch, Pat Johnston, said he expects this year's total amount raised to top last year's figure and exceed $20,000.
"We've had tremendous support. The support has been just outrageous," Johnston said. "Money is still rolling in."
That included more than $3,000 raised in just an hour by StarFM and Royal Lep-age Wheeler Cheam Realty during a blitz last Friday in Cottonwood Mall intended to make up for the money stolen.
Johnston also said he is happy that an arrest has been made in the thefts and credited the RCMP for their work in the case.
"I think it's just fantastic," he said. "It shows that the RCMP doesn't give up."