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Published: Tuesday, 11/11/2003

Panty raid cleans out shelves at mall store

BY CHRISTINA HALL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Victoria wants to know the secret of the heist of nearly 500 pairs of panties from a lingerie store in Westfield Shoppingtown Franklin Park.

Toledo police Detective Victoria Woodard is assigned, appropriately, to the Victoria s Secret caper in which a thief took about 485 pairs of panties.

It was one of two high-priced thefts at the West Toledo mall. Nearly $9,800 worth of women s shirts and sweaters was taken from Abercrombie & Fitch. In both cases, the merchandise went right out the front door.

Police don t have many leads on who took about $6,800 in unmentionables Saturday from a table near the front of Victoria s Secret. An employee noticed the $14-a-pair panties, which had anti-theft tags, were missing about 5 p.m. Only a few pairs were left.

“There were different styles and types. There were thongs. There were seamless and lace,” the detective said.

She said an employee heard a store alarm sound between 3 and 4 p.m., but the shop was full of customers and the employees were busy. They thought the alarm might have sounded when someone holding an article with an anti-theft tag stood too close to the entrance and set it off.

That could have been when the items were taken. Though a police report says two suspicious older men were staring into the store, employees told the detective five females went in and out of the store several times but didn t buy anything.

Police have some description of the two males who scooped up 42 wool, V-neck sweaters, 144 striped dress shirts, and 34 sweatshirts from tables in the front of the Abercrombie & Fitch store later in the day.

The men, described as Hispanic and in their 20s, ran past the Tupperware kiosk outside the store, toting the folded garments. A female at the kiosk yelled for them to “drop the clothes because she knew what they did,” a police report states.

She saw them acting suspiciously in front of the store before they took the clothes, ran in the mall past numerous kiosks and stores and through Marshall Field s, where they may have been caught on tape by security cameras.

Usually, Abercrombie & Fitch employees stand near the front of the store to make sure no items are stolen. The theft occurred when an employee who was watching the front left to use the restroom.

Beth Shivak, the mall s marketing director, said mall officials will look into both thefts.

“Security is always our No. 1 priority. The safety of our customers and retailers is our No. 1 priority,” she said.



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