A worker at Victoria’s Secret plundered £18,000 worth of lingerie by wearing the goods under his clothes to avoid detection.
47-year-old Pablo Munoz, who worked as a contract cleaner at the retailer’s New Bond Street store, was only rumbled when a shop manager asked him to drop his trousers, which revealed he was wearing lingerie over his underwear.
A judge yesterday spared Munoz jail for his thefts, but sentenced him to 250 hours of unpaid work.
The court heard that Munoz stole more than 1,000 items of underwear from a basket in the store’s dressing rooms, which were full of items that had been tried on and discarded by potential customers.
The thefts were committed over a three-year period after his habit snowballed and became an “obsession”.
Prosecuting, Obi Mgbokwere said that Munoz’s crimes were uncovered after a member of staff spotted an item of underwear drop from the bottom of his trousers as he left the changing room.
“The security guard who witnessed the incident reported his concerns to the loss prevention manager so that an eye could be kept on Munoz. He was observed by the manager the next day through the store’s CCTV system. “He saw him going into a particular changing room on five different occasions. Within the changing room was a basket with underwear to be returned to the shelves.”
According to press reports, the manager invited Munoz to his office to discuss what he had seen and asked him to empty out his pockets and drop his trousers. “This showed that he was wearing some underwear as well as some other underwear stored within his trousers.”
Police found a further haul of lingerie when they visited his home, recovering 1,048 items in total. Some of these items had been paired up, which the prosecution alleges was for the purpose of onwards sale. “This defendant had in fact reduced the prices to some of them and placed his own tags on them,” said Mgbokwere.
The total value of the stolen underwear came to £17,919.16.
In mitigation, Richard Craven said: “He fully acknowledged that he had been stealing underwear for some time with the intention of selling it on. Once he got into the habit of stealing it became something of an "obsession". His house became full of over 1,000 pairs of knickers.”
Munoz, of Stockwell, London, was sentenced to eight months in prison suspended for two years. The judge said the sentence was suspended due to the financial repercussions it would have had on his family in Columbia, who he provides for.