Heriberto Polanco, age 27, pleaded guilty to unlawful surveillance this week for secretly recording women in dressing rooms while he worked at Forever 21 at the Cross County Center in Yonkers.
Polanco, a Bronx resident, pleaded guilty to three felony counts of unlawful surveillance.
As part of his plea agreement, Polanco will avoid jail time, and instead receive probationary supervision with sex offender specific conditions. He will also be required to register as a sex offender.
Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah said that on Aug. 28, 2019, a customer was trying on clothes in a fitting room at Forever 21 when she found a cell phone resting on a sneaker outside the room with the camera lens aimed directly at her.
The girl began screaming and calling for her 13-year-old sister, who had been waiting just outside the dressing rooms, the district attorney's office said.
Her sister saw a man, later identified as Polanco, running out of the dressing rooms after hearing the scream.
The police were called and Polanco was identified as a suspect. He was later taken into custody and identified by the victim’s sister during the investigation.
On Sept. 10, 2019, Rocah said that Polanco was questioned by police in Yonkers, at which point he admitted to placing his phone under the victim’s dressing room stall and attempting to record her changing.
Polanco also admitted to recording others while working at Forever 21 without their permission during August 2019.
The investigation led to the seizure of Polanco’s cell phone determined that no photos or video were captured during the Aug. 28 incident, but that the camera was on during the incident.
Further investigation found that Polanco used a mobile app called "Gallery Vault," which is used to secretly store photos and videos on a phone. Forensics experts recovered 23 surreptitious videos of women from Polanco’s phone and determined all to have been taken at Forever 21 from March 2019 through September 2019.
"The predatory behavior Heriberto Polanco displayed is incredibly disturbing and unacceptable,” Rocah said. “Everyone should have the expectation of privacy when they enter a changing room in a store, and Mr. Polanco violated that on numerous occasions.”
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