Authorities in Canoga Park have released security camera images of a man dubbed the "Preppy Store Masher" who has allegedly accosted several woman while they were shopping in stores in Canoga Park and Woodland Hills.
Los Angeles police Detective Arlene Padilla said authorities want the public's help identifying the man.
"While none of the women was injured and the physical contact has been over clothing, we need to identify him quickly,” Padilla said. "His behavior is premeditated, as we can see from his movements in the stores, and our concern is, his behavior could escalate in boldness or aggression."
Victims say the man walks up behind them and thrusts his groin into their buttocks.
"On one occasion, the man followed a woman through a parking garage and grabbed her from behind in a bear hug,” Padilla said. "He released her quickly, and she chased him away.”
The man is described as white or Hispanic, in his mid-20s, thin, clean-cut, with a short, military type haircut. His clothing is described as "preppy" which is what his nickname refers to.
Detectives believe the man may ride the Metro Orange Line into Canoga Park on a regular basis. Some of the incidents have taken place between June 10 and July 11 at a shoe store, women's discount clothing store, as well as a large department store.
"We think he focuses on stores frequented by women during daytime shopping trips,” Padilla said. "He might be seen on the Orange Line or in any store between Fallbrook Street and DeSoto Avenue, and Erwin Street to Sherman Way, which is the greater shopping area for the West San Fernando Valley.”
Police say that anyone with any information about the case should contact detectives at (818) 756-3376 or (877) LAPD-247.