'Panty bandit' arrested for stealing $10K worth of lingerie in San Fernando Valley

SAN FERNANDO, Calif. (KABC) -- A so-called "panty bandit" is behind bars after allegedly breaking into nearly a dozen lingerie stores in the San Fernando Valley.

Police said 35-year-old Carlos Olivas was caught on surveillance video and arrested on Thursday.

"The individual we arrested yesterday, the 29th, we believe is responsible for 16 to 18 commercial burglaries throughout the San Fernando Valley," said Det. Merrill Dunn of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Olivas, also known as the "panty bandit," was detained after police caught him trying to pry open the back door of a store.

In total, police estimate the burglaries which - started in January - led to more than $10,000 in losses, not including the damage caused by the force entry.

"It just is a maddening thing," said Beth Higgins of Intimate Image. "You work so hard all your life for all this money and for someone just to come in and disrespect and take off with it - it's very maddening," she said.

Higgins is the owner of Intimate Image, one of the lingerie boutiques broken into twice. Her store specializes in helping cancer patients who have had a mastectomy find a custom bra.

"We took it all very personal because these are items that we may not be able to get again," she said. "They fit, there is a special need for that fitting."

Police say in the last three years, they have seen a spike in retail crime in the San Fernando Valley.

Property crime in the Topanga area is up 8 percent and nearly 20 percent since 2014.

"And that just takes a hit on us, the consumers," Dunn said. "Skyrocket prices and also it's a burden on the store owners themselves."

Olivas was booked for commercial burglary. His bail was set at $200,000, and he will be facing a judge on Monday.
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