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Underwear raid nets suspect with ‘problem’

Tue., March 27, 2007

A 24-year-old man who reportedly told police he has “a problem” is facing criminal charges after officers found 93 pounds of stolen bras and women’s panties in his Pullman home.

Garth M. Flaherty is believed to have stolen as many as 1,500 undergarments from laundry rooms in Pullman apartment complexes, according to Pullman police.

He was spotted Saturday taking women’s underwear from two laundry rooms on the 800 and 900 blocks of Northeast Providence Court, police said.

One person recorded Flaherty’s license plate number.

He was later identified from a photo montage, said Pullman police Cmdr. Chris Tennant.

A search of Flaherty’s vehicle and home revealed a stash of women’s undergarments.

Tennant said they were spread around Flaherty’s bedroom and filled five garbage bags when collected.

Flaherty was charged with 12 counts of second-degree burglary and one charge of first-degree theft.

He was taken to the Whitman County Jail.

“He said he had a problem,” Tennant said.

Police report 12 previous incidents of panty thefts at five apartment complexes in northeast Pullman.

The rash of thefts prompted police to ask residents to watch their laundry and be on the lookout for suspicious people.

“We were kind of concerned about how to match up bras and panties with victims,” he said. “Based on the unique descriptions from a couple of women, we can tie him to those thefts.”

How the crime will be prosecuted is unclear.

Though the thefts have sexual overtones, Tennant said he doesn’t know whether the case can be tried as a sex crime.

Police arrested a man last month for stealing panties from women on the Brigham Young University-Idaho campus in Rexburg.

As for the bras and panties retrieved in Pullman, they will be held as evidence until after the case is complete. After that, it’s unclear what police will do with them.

“Would you really want them back?” Tennant asked. “I would say not.”

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