WOODLAND HILLS—A lingerie thief dubbed the “Panty Bandit” by authorities was caught in the act on Wednesday, September 28. The suspect, Carlos Olivas, 35, is being charged in connection to 11 similar incidents throughout the San Fernando Valley.
Olivas was booked on suspicion of commercial burglary on Wednesday when he was caught burglarizing Excitement, a Woodland Hills lingerie shop located at 19841 Ventura Blvd. He is being held in lieu of $200,000 bail – which is based off of a set $20,000 bail for each attributed crime.
“We had dubbed this man the Panty Bandit,” said Detective Merrill Dunn of the Topanga Detective Division in a statement.”His penchant for breaking into lingerie shops told us this was a matter of organized retail crime, which means he’s reselling the merchandise to fences or shipping it out of the country.”
Wade Kubat—who works at Excitement—told KTLA that the incident was caught on surveillance video from the moment Olivas approached the front door.
After Excitement was burglarized in August, by who authorities believe was the same suspect, the store’s owner had a surveillance camera and alarm system installed, which was triggered when Olivas began to pry open the store’s front door. The system alerted the store’s owner of an intruder and he immediately called 911, according to reports.
“A sergeant arrived quickly and detained (Olivas) outside the store,” said Dunn. “It was the second time since late August that the ‘Panty Bandit’ had hit this store.”
The burglaries date back to January 21, when Les Corset Lingerie in Woodland Hills was broken into. The same location had been burglarized twice since then, most recently on September 19.
According to reports, the burglaries amount to over $10,000 in losses, not including the damage that was caused by broken glass windows and doors to gain entry into establishments.
Property crime in the Topanga Area is up 8 percent this year, and nearly 20 percent since 2014, according to a press release from the LAPD.
“What the public doesn’t realize is that organized retail crime amounts to over $30 billion in loss annually,” said Capt. Paul Vernon, commanding officer of the Topanga Patrol Division in a statement.
“Investigations of organized retail theft have led to operations shipping merchandise to South American and the Middle East. It’s a problem much bigger and more sinister than just simple shoplifting a sweater. The consequences for property crimes are now so small, there is little deterrence” said Vernon.
Anyone with information in this case is urged to call Det. Merrill Dunn, Topanga Detective Division, at 818-756-5863. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247).
Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call the LA Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477) or go directly to www.lacrimestoppers.org. Tipsters may also visit ww.lapdonline.org, and click on “Anonymous Web Tips” under the “Get Involved-Crime Stoppers” menu to submit an online tip. Lastly, tipsters may also download the “P3 Tips” mobile application and select the LA Regional Crime Stoppers as their local program.