Former Westchester clothing store worker admits recording women in locker rooms

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Defendant Peeping Tom admitted to illegally recording videos in locker rooms inside the clothing store where he worked in a Westchester shopping center.

Heriberto Polanco, 27, pleaded guilty this week to illegal surveillance for secretly recording women in locker rooms while working at Forever 21 at the Cross County Center in Yonkers.

Polanco, a Bronx resident, pleaded guilty to three counts of illegal surveillance.

As part of its plea deal, Polanco will avoid jail time and instead benefit from probationary supervision with conditions specific to sex offenders. He will also have to register as a sex offender.

Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah said on August 28, 2019, a customer was trying on clothes in a Forever 21 changing room when she found a cell phone lying on a basketball outside the room with the camera lens pointed directly at it.

The girl started screaming and calling for her 13-year-old sister, who was waiting just outside the locker room, the state attorney’s office said.

Her sister saw a man, later identified as Polanco, run out of the locker room after hearing the scream.

Police were called and Polanco was identified as a suspect. He was then taken into police custody and identified by the victim’s sister during the investigation.

On September 10, 2019, Rocah said Polanco was interviewed by police in Yonkers, at which point he admitted to placing his phone under the victim’s changing room cubicle and attempting to register his change.

Polanco also admitted to recording other people while working at Forever 21 without their permission in August 2019.

The investigation led to the seizure of Polanco’s cell phone and determined that no photos or videos were captured during the August 28 incident, but the camera was on during the incident.

Further investigation revealed that Polanco was using a mobile application called “Gallery Vault”, which is used to secretly store photos and videos on a phone. Forensic experts recovered 23 clandestine videos of women from Polanco’s phone and determined that all were taken at Forever 21 from March 2019 to September 2019.

“The predatory behavior displayed by Heriberto Polanco is incredibly disturbing and unacceptable,” Rocah said. “Everyone should expect confidentiality when they walk into a locker room in a store, and Mr. Polanco has violated this on numerous occasions.”

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