Police have charged a man suspected of stealing women underwear for months from apartment balconies in Melbourne’s east.

A video footage has shown the Lalor man, 35, stealing the innerwear from a clothesline in an apartment at Richmond. One of the victims, whose undergarment was repeatedly stolen, installed a camera to catch the thief after which the truth was revealed.

Victoria police said that undergarment was stolen from three women of two apartments in Richmond on different occasions. He stole the first intimate in December 26, 2015 and the latest theft was committed on January 30. According to 9News report, the man used these intimates to masturbate.

One of the women claimed to have lost 18 pairs of underwear in the past week. In addition to the theft, the man has also been charged with stalking allegations and will be presented at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on May 27. Detective Sergeant Bill Brown confirmed the installation of a surveillance camera by one of the victims to unveil the truth. The footage showed the man stealing the undergarments just before midnight.

“After that he appears to masturbate and then he leaves the area a short time later,” Brown said as quoted by the ABC. “Basically he was known to be there because on the first incidents, items from the clotheshorse had fallen to the ground and there had been pegs and the pegs had been replaced and 10 pairs of underwear had been stolen,” the detective added later.

One of the theft victims said that she felt sick after watching the video footage. “When I rewatched through the footage the next morning on both occurrences, when I realised I’d actually caught someone on camera, I felt really unwell watching the footage back,” she said. She added that she felt unsafe at her own house now after the incident.

“We were actually home at the time, and it starts to make you wonder or not [if] someone’s watching your house, whether someone is potentially stalking you,” she said.