Authorities on Thursday released security images of a man dubbed the Preppy Store Masher, who allegedly accosted several women while they were shopping at stores in Canoga Park and Woodland Hills.
"While none of the women was injured and the physical contact has been over clothing, we need to identify him quickly," said Los Angeles police Detective Arlene Padilla of the Topanga Station.
"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," Padilla said.
Local news from across Southern California
Women shoppers told police the man walked up behind them and thrust his groin into their buttocks, Padilla said.
"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 was described as being in his mid-20s, thin, and clean-cut, with a short, military type haircut. His clothing is described as "preppy,'' Padilla said.
Detectives believe he may ride the Metro Orange Line into Canoga Park. Reported incidents have occurred between June 10 and July 11 at a shoe store, a women's discount clothing store, and 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."
Anyone with information on the case was urged to Padilla at (818) 756- 3376, or (877) LAPD-247.