GREELEY, Colo. - Greeley Police are trying to get a handle on how many victims a suspected underwear thief may have targeted in their city.
Joey Eugene Gallegos, 39, was arrested Aug. 1, for stealing undergarments from a laundry room at an apartment complex on the 1800 block of 30th Street. Sgt. Susan West said Gallegos was later linked to two burglaries in an apartment in the same complex.
Police said he later told them that he started collecting women's underwear at age 8.
According to court documents, the first burglary was reported May 14. A tenant told investigator that she and a roommate noticed several items, including undergarments, a laundry basket, jewelry box and high heel boots were missing from their apartment. Police determined that the suspect entered the apartment through a bedroom window. Investigators canvassed the neighborhood, but found no suspect.
A month later, the same tenant reported a second burglary. This time the entire screen from a living room window had been removed and was found lying on her living room floor next to a condom wrapper.
The tenant told police that electronics, personal documents and enough clothing to fill half her closet were taken, along with a small metal makeup case. Police interviewed neighbors but found no witnesses.
On July 31, the third victim filed a theft report. According to court documents, she told police she was doing laundry at the apartment complex laundry facility when a man walked in without any laundry or detergent. She said the man appeared to be watching her closely and that it made her uncomfortable, so she left for a while. She said when she returned, she saw the man walking away with a brown bag. Shorty afterward, she noticed all her undergarments had been removed from a washing machine and that there was now a puddle of water on the floor in front of the machine.
The tenant contacted the apartment manager and gave a description of the man. The manager checked her records and found a photograph fitting the description. The tenant positively the defendant as the man she saw in the laundry room, according to police.
Police contacted Gallegos and asked if they could search his apartment. He said "no," so they obtained a search warrant. Several hundred pairs of panties and bras were found in the defendant’s bedroom, piled 2-feet-high on his bed.
“That’s crazy,” said next door neighbor Gina Martinez. “I can’t fathom how anyone could do that. I don’t even know what to say.”
When asked how many victims there might be, Sgt. West said, “It’s hard to say. If he took one pair of clothing at each place, we could have 350 victims.”
West said it’s more likely that Gallegos took several items each time. She said anyone who believes they’ve had personal clothing items stolen should contact Det. Matt Walsh at the Greeley Police Department. His number is 970-350-9549.
Gallegos has a seven-page Colorado arrest history, including arrests for assault, menacing, bribery, drug possession, DUI, probation violation, obstructing police and domestic violence.
Police have designated Gallegos a habitual traffic offender and say he has several DUI arrests. On May 16, he was arrested in Greeley for hit and run while driving with a revoked license, police say.