Police Nab Washington's Alleged Panty Thief

March 27, 2007 — -- The five bags of undergarments discovered by police at Garth Flaherty's Pullman, Wash., home weighed approximately 93 pounds and contained an estimated 1,500 pairs of women's undergarments -- bras and panties of all shapes, colors and sizes.

It was enough for Pullman police to arrest Flaherty, 24, and declare that they had finally found their suspect after a months-long panty-thief mystery that targeted the Washington State University college town.

"When you steal someone's underwear, it's kind of a personal thing," said Cmdr. Chris Tenant of the Pullman Police Department. "This isn't like taking a gallon of milk from someone's porch."

"I'll be the first to admit there's kind of a tongue-and-cheek flavor to the story, but he affected a lot of people," Tenant said.

Police first heard reports of stolen panties in and around the Washington State campus in the latter part of 2006, Tenant said.

The reports came from five different apartment buildings with common laundry rooms that primarily house college students.

Local police put out word for students to be on the lookout for a possible panty thief as they washed their clothes. That notice, Tenant said, prompted even more accounts of missing underwear.

"So far in 2007, we had already had about a dozen actual reports," Tenant said. "I guess you could say we live in a target-rich environment if this is your fetish."

A building employee aware of the serial thief alerted police Saturday to a possible suspect who had been seen in the laundry room. The employee provided a license plate number that ultimately guided authorities to Flaherty.

Flaherty faces 12 felony theft charges. He was arraigned and released from the Whitman County sheriff's office.