TOPANGA CANYON/WOODLAND HILLS—On January 27, a Canoga Park man known as the “Panty Bandit” was sentenced to 2 years and eight months in jail for a series of adult and lingerie store burglaries.
According to a press release from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Deputy District Attorney, Ranna Jahanshahi, stated that Carlos Oliva, 35, pleaded no contest to three felony counts of second-degree commercial burglary on January 6, 2017.
“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.”
Between January and September 2016, Oliva burglarized or attempted to burglarize 12 adult or lingerie stores in the West San Fernando Valley region. A majority of the burglaries were committed on the same dates against the victims and some of victims were burglarized more than once during the time frame.
In September 2016, Oliva was arrested after being caught breaking into a store on surveillance video. He 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.
“You work so hard all your life for all this money for someone just to come in and disrespect and take off with it – it’s very maddening,” Higgins informed ABC 7 News.
Higgins’ lingerie boutique, Intimate Lingerie was broken into twice. The company specializes in customized bras for cancer patients who had undergone mastectomies. She said she took the burglaries personally because she worries that there are customized items that her boutique may never get again.
Oliva continually stole the same type of items, either women’s panties or adult DVD’s, costing the victims thousands of dollars.
After Excitement, a lingerie shop was burglarized in August 2016, 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 (Oliva) outside the store,” said Dunn. “It was the second time since late August that the ‘Panty Bandit’ had hit this store.”
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.
Oliva agreed to pay restitution to the victims of nine separate burglary and attempted burglary counts which have been dismissed as part of a plea deal.
Written By Michelle Zverev and Casey Jacobs