An 18-year-old Petaluma man with an affinity for women’s undergarments was arrested on Tuesday with more than 500 pairs of stolen panties, the Petaluma Police Department said.
When police arrested Benjamin Hawkins on Oct. 21, he was riding a skateboard with five pairs of recently stolen underwear shoved down his pants, said Sgt. Paul Gilman.
Police first began investigating Hawkins after a neighbor reported that two guns and her underwear had been stolen. Another neighbor told police they had seen Hawkins carrying a gun case around the same time. When police contacted him, he told police they could search his mother’s Marylyn Circle home, but not his bedroom.
They came back with a warrant, at which point they found the two stolen guns, a 22 rifle and a double barrel shotgun, as well as stolen jewelry and more than 500 pairs of women’s underwear.
"People started calling us saying, ‘I know that kid, he’s been in my house and my panties were stolen,’” Gilman said. “Just by casually reading through this report, I see five identified victims."
Gilman said Hawkins had stolen underwear from victims as young as 17 and from grandmothers.
"What we’re looking at is someone with a fetish," Gilman said, "but how he goes about that fetish is against the law."
As a juvenile, Hawkins was charged with prowling and trespassing, and had repeatedly been found in neighbor’s backyards. He now faces five counts, including two felony burglary charges, and is being held in the Sonoma County Jail on $40,000 bail.
Hawkins has his first court appearance Thursday.