Pair's arrest may signal end to series of Wahiawa crimes
By Will Hoover
Advertiser Staff Writer
WAHIAWA Police and residents have high hopes that a three-month wave of burglaries that saw some businesses victimized three or four times has ended.
Two people were arrested last week during a police stakeout, and there have been no major burglaries since.
It's too soon to say the crime has been solved, but "we've got our fingers crossed," said Wahiawa police Capt. Michael Thomas.
Alii Manuel, 24, and Shantel Castro, 18, have been charged with attempted burglary and possession of burglary tools. After a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, the pair were bound over to Circuit Court.
Alii's bail was set at $20,000 for the Nov. 21 incident that resulted in the pair's arrest, with an additional $15,000 tacked on for a separate Oct. 13 attempted-burglary charge.
Castro's bail was set at $15,000.
Attorneys for Manuel and Castro declined requests for comment.
The crime wave that began in August could only be described as brazen, according to Robyn Morimoto, sales associate at the Nextel shop on Kilani Street. The first time they struck Nextel, burglars entered the two-story building at 834 Kilani St. through a bathroom window and went to work.
"They took the phones all of them and left the empty boxes," said Morimoto. "The next time they came in through the air conditioner. They broke in four times altogether. The last time was two weeks weeks ago on Sunday Patty Ann's Hair Design upstairs got hit the same day."
Next door, at Paz Liquor, clerk Rita Mehio said the first time thieves broke into the store about three months ago they not only made off with everything in the cash register, they took the register as well. She said burglars returned three more times, entering through a back door.
Mehio said several businesses and residences in the adjacent apartment building where she has lived for 16 years had also been hit more than once. The burglars seemed to be particularly interested in electronic equipment, she said.
"It's like there was a pattern," said Morimoto, who added that before August she didn't think there had been a burglary in the building in five years.
Morimoto wasn't the only person who noticed a pattern.
Honolulu police Sgt. Glen Ishikawa, who is in charge of the HPD Crime Reduction Unit in Wahiawa, thought the heists had certain similarities.
Ishikawa's plainclothes unit, working in conjunction with uniformed patrol sergeants Kevin Brunn, Michael Serrao and Paul Ledesma, pored through what he called a substantial number of recent burglary reports in the Kilani Street area, and devised a plan.
Ishikawa and his men had established that the repeat burglaries occurred in the same area of town in the early morning hours. Officers were posted at key locations at certain times and told to maintain a low profile and keep a vigil.
Then, Ishikawa said, at around 3:55 a.m. Nov. 21, the strategy paid off when police caught a pair of burglars breaking into the I.L.T.K. Auto Service Center, next to the NAPA Auto Parts store on Kilani's 600 block. Both businesses had been burglarized previously in recent months.
Manuel and Castro were arrested without incident by officer Bryson Apo and taken into custody.
Thomas said he has instructed officers to watch for break-ins in the Kilani Street area that match the modus operandi of the recent burglaries.
So far, none has been reported.