Man leaving ‘biological evidence’ in shoes,’ sniffs victim’s shoe in front of her

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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Henrico Police are hoping more victims can step forward and shed light on an odd rash of shoe thefts taking place in the Monument Avenue corridor since early September.

Police began receiving reports from women whose shoes had been removed from their porches overnight. There were four documented incidents, but police believe there are more victims, possibly in other jurisdictions. The reported crimes occurred near the Monument and Horsepen area, all the way down to the city line.

The missing shoes were returned to the porches within a few days, with something extra in them that police are calling “biological evidence.” Henrico Police confirmed the unwanted substance is not fecal in nature.

“It’s very odd,” Catherine Murphy, who lives near several of the victims, said. “I hope if he is caught maybe he will get help.”

One victim told CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit she actually confronted the shoe stealer when she drove up to her home to find him walking away with her running shoes.

She asked him what he was doing, and he told her he loved the smell of her shoes before sniffing them in front of her.

In an email sent to the area’s neighborhood watch group, another victim said she found a note in her shoe.

The note stated the suspect was “a married man and his wife’s shoes did not have a smell and he liked performing perverted activity in the shoes and then returning them.”

“Certainly it’s an abnormal behavior, there is no doubt about it but it may be perpetrated by a perfectly normal individual…it could be your physician, an attorney, a teacher,” Mike Banks, a criminalist said.

Banks said something triggered the shoe fetish, but he said it’s relatively harmless.

“The fetish has to do with maybe someone in his past…with whom he could not have a relationship but was enthralled with shoes,” Banks said.

“You don’t think this would escalate to sexual assault?” Hipolit asked Banks.

“I’m not aware of this kind of fetish ever going any further than what it is,” Banks said.

Police are asking for the public's assistance identifying and locating more potential victims of these incidents.

Anyone with information about the crime is asked to contact Detective Duane Stone at (804) 501-7176 or Henrico Police at (804) 501-5000.

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