Cat burglar steals truckloads of high fashion clothes

March 1, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A cat burglar with a taste for fine fashion was busted in San Francisco. When police arrested her in her home, they found what amounted to truckloads of stolen merchandise. The largest haul they have seen in recent memory. It seems to be the work of one woman and her partner.

Police say Pooja Gandhi was a prolific burglar who was good at her trade. Investigators finally identified her through fingerprints found at two recent burglaries, but for the past six to eight months police say she was very busy.

Police say she broke into apartments, homes for sale and stores across the city, burglarizing them at ease. Pooja Gandhi, 30, they say was a skillful equal opportunity cat burglar.

"She didn't raise a whole lot of suspicion, so she was allowed to come and go behind people. She may have piggy backed on doorways where she would follow someone in who was going into a building," said San Francisco Sgt. Marty Lalor who is heading the investigation.

When Gandhi and Joseph Valdez were arrested two weeks ago at a Polk Street apartment building, police took out a mindboggling five truckloads of items which they believe the two stole.

"I've been here 23 years and this is the largest amount of property we've seized on an individual case," said Lalor.

"A lot of jewelry, iPhone, iPod, computer," said Dawn Sanchez as she recalled what was stolen from her.

Sanchez said Gandhi took those things from her Marina apartment in August. Sanchez now recalls seeing Gandhi as she was leaving for work.

"The girl looked like anybody. She could be at the restaurant having dinner with us," said Sanchez.

Police showed ABC7 News some of the stolen goods, which even included dog collars. Gandhi apparently had an eye for expensive apparel as well.

"Some of the items range from $4,000 raincoats to $1,400 dresses," said Lalor.

The burglars even cleaned out a small hair salon.

"Everything from her vacuum, all the way to her aprons, as well as her scissors. So she was effectively put out of business by these people," said Lalor.

"You know, I picture him with a cap on," said Susan Dhillon.

Dhillon pointed out Valdez from the mug shots ABC7 showed her. She said the two stole about $8,000 of clothing from her boutique in the Marina. She identified some of them from police photos.

"I got some images with Dylan tags on the merchandise, so it was an easy way to identify it," said Dhillon.

All of the five truckloads of stolen items are now in a secure warehouse. In fact, a large group of officers just finished processing all the items on Monday.

So, if you have been burglarized here in San Francisco in the past six to eight months, you should contact police.

Northern Police Station number for people to call if they think their stuff may be there: (415) 614-3400