Felony panty thieves get away with it 

Perhaps it’s Victoria’s secret. Not that any regular-sized woman can’t fit into their clothes, but that store thieves go unpunished by the famous lingerie chain, according to Daly City police officials.

On March 16, a store manager reported at 5:15 p.m. that 150 pairs of panties worth $1,125 collectively were stolen from a drawer in the store.

But the reporting of the incident is generally where it ends for Victoria’s Secret, according to Daly City police. If the police do catch somebody, the company generally just wants its merchandise back and is done with the process without pressing charges, Daly City police said.

Since 2004, the Victoria’s Secret storein the Serramonte Center has seen thousands of dollars worth of lacy materials stolen in 41 felony thefts. A felony theft occurs when more than $400 worth of material is stolen or the suspect shows intent to steal, such as possessing wire cutters or a foil-lined bag to get by security devices.

On Jan. 26, $1,400 of merchandise was stolen from the same store. Dec. 13, 2006, saw $1,200 worth stolen, much less than the Oct. 25, 2006 theft of $2,800 worth of women’s lingerie, all from the same store, Sgt. Ron Mussman of the Daly City Police Department said.

But Victoria’s Secret says it works vigorously with officials to prevent future thefts that, at least in Daly City’s case, see suspects almost routinely walk out of the store with thousands in women’s underwear.

Jennifer Ortiz, a spokeswoman with Limited Brands, Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, said she couldn’t discuss security measures the store takes for security reasons.

"We are still assessing this matter, but we are aggressively working with local law enforcement authorities to address this incident and deter future such thefts," Ortiz said in an e-mail.

Not so, Mussman said. Daly City detectives have "fought" with the lingerie company to press charges on numerous occasions, but the company has declined, he said. This is among the reasons that the Serramonte store is stolen from so often, because word gets out that Victoria’s Secret won’t prosecute, he said.

San Mateo police officials said in incidents with the Victoria’s Secret at Hillsdale Shopping Center, store employees have been very diligent in reporting and pursuing suspects.

Mussman said the suspects could do any number of things with the stolen goods, such as sell them at a flea market or give them out as Christmas presents.

"The list goes on. It only stops when the imagination stops," he said.

dsmith@examiner.com

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