CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Disgusting behavior of ‘Sunday Bandit’ has neighbors worried
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EDITOR’S NOTE: This story and video contain graphic details of a sexual nature. Discretion is advised.
SALEM – It started with a missing piece of underwear.
Kent Sanderson’s 18-year-old daughter thought she may have misplaced it or it was lost in the laundry.
But when other clothing started disappearing from her bedroom on a regular basis, the Sanderson family realized a thief might be breaking in and stealing the clothes.
“It happened on numerous occasions,” Sanderson told EastIdahoNews.com during a recent interview at his home. “We started paying attention to other items in the home, but nothing else was ever taken except the clothing out of her room.”
Expensive jackets, shirts, underwear, pajamas and other items vanished from the bedroom – always on Sundays when the Sandersons were at church.
With the help of a friend, Sanderson set up a hidden camera inside his daughter’s room last summer.
A few weeks later, the camera captured the thief entering the room one Sunday morning.
The black and white video shows a man quickly pulling down his pants and rummaging through the teen’s dirty laundry.
He finds a piece of underwear and masturbates over the girls bed.
When he finishes, he takes the underwear and leaves the home – 14 minutes after entering the bedroom.
“You’ve got a thief, but then when you put sexual acts into this regarding my family — that’s a sore subject,” Sanderson said.
The Sandersons instantly recognized the man in the video as 21-year-old Cody Polatis, a man living in their neighborhood.
The family called the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office and handed over the video.
On Sept. 28, Polatis was charged with burglary, stalking and public display of offensive sexual material.
In court documents obtained by EastIdahoNews.com, Polatis admitted to taking the clothes. And when detectives asked if he intended on masturbating and then taking the clothing, Polatis responded, “Yes.”
The Sandersons’ neighbors heard about the case and many contacted the family.
“Several people would come to us and say, ‘He was in our home, he knocked on our door,’” Sanderson recalled. “I call him the ‘Sunday Bandit’ because he waits until people go to church, and as soon as they go to church, he goes to their home. If the doors are unlocked, he’ll enter.”
Before his arrest, Polatis had previous run-ins with the law.
In 2014 he was charged with trespassing after being found in the Rexburg Kmart dressing room after hours with women’s clothing.
Court documents show he pleaded guilty and was ordered to undergo a psychosexual evaluation in June 2014.
One year later, Polatis began breaking into the Sandersons’ home. They figure he entered at least seven times over the course of several months, and they say he took more than $1,300 worth of clothing.
In October 2015, Polatis entered into a plea agreement with the Fremont County Prosecutor’s Office. The felony burglary charge was reduced to a misdemeanor unlawful entry charge.
The misdemeanor second-degree stalking charge remained, but the misdemeanor public display of sexual material charge was dropped.
It is unclear why the plea agreement was reached. Multiple attempts to contact Fremont County Prosecuting Attorney Karl Lewies for comment on this case remain unanswered.
During a sentencing hearing, Seventh District Magistrate Judge Gilman Gardner had some stern words for Polatis.
“I can’t think of anything that would make a person feel more violated than going into their home and into their bedrooms and conducting yourself in such a manner that would literally strike terror in a girl’s heart,” Gardner said.
Polatis was issued a no contact order with Sanderson’s daughter and sentenced to 360 days in jail, but Gardner suspended all of the jail time except 10 days.
Polatis was also given four years probation and Gardner warned him that if he violated probation, Polatis could serve his entire jail sentence.
“I could put you in to jail essentially for one year if you violate your probation or if you violate the no-contact order,” Gardner said.
Polatis appeared to stay out of trouble until May.
Court documents show a teenage girl in the Sandersons’ neighborhood wasn’t feeling well and stayed home from church. She was in her bedroom when she heard someone enter the house through the front door.
The person walked to her bedroom and opened the door, but when he saw the girl, he hurried and left the home.
The teen told Madison County Sheriff investigators that she followed him out of the house and saw him leave in an older four-door silver car.
Detectives were led to Polatis and, on a voluntary admission form, he wrote, “I went in and intended to masturbate and leave. I did not intend on taking anything.”
On May 22, Polatis was charged with one misdemeanor count of unlawful entry. He was also charged with a probation violation.
Polatis appeared before Judge Keith Walker in Fremont County on June 3 and pleaded guilty to the probation violation charge.
The probation officer working with Polatis recommended he serve 10 days in jail, and Walker agreed to the sentence.
Sanderson doesn’t understand why – especially after Polatis admitted to violating probation.
“He should have received that jail time that was hanging over his head with that probation violation,” Sanderson said.
A few days later, in Madison County, Polatis appeared before Judge Mark Rammell on the unlawful entry charge.
Court documents show Rammell sentenced him to 180 discretionary days in jail pending a psychosexual evaluation. Once the evaluation is complete, Rammell can rule that Polatis return to jail.
EastIdahoNews.com attempted to speak with Polatis about his criminal record and behavior. Nobody answered the door when we went to his home, and when we called him, Polatis said he would think about commenting. Follow-up calls were not returned.
The Sandersons worry about Polatis being out of jail. They say he has caused permanent psychological damage to their children and fear he will strike again in another home.
“He’s a danger right now and he doesn’t think he has a problem,” Sanderson said. “We just want the public to know that this kid is still right here in our neighborhood, and he’s got the potential and tendencies to do this again.”
CORRECTION: In a previous version of this article, EastIdahoNews.com incorrectly stated that Magistrate Judge Gilman Gardner handed down a sentence of 10 days in jail. Gardner was the original judge on the case but was absent on the day of the sentencing. Magistrate Judge Keith Walker actually gave the sentence. The change in judges was not noted in court documents. EastIdahoNews.com apologizes for the error.