Thieves make off with $1M in Prada goods
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By Peter Boylan
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Peter Boylan
More than $1 million worth of Prada merchandise was stolen from the upscale clothier's Kaka'ako warehouse, the latest in a string of 19 burglaries in the past three months that might be linked, according to police and company employees.
"We are looking into several burglaries to see if they are connected," said Honolulu Police Department spokeswoman Michelle Yu. She declined further comment.
The theft was discovered by store employees early on the morning after Christmas as they prepared to move merchandise to department stores in anticipation of after-Christmas sales.
A representative with Prada's Hawai'i office declined comment yesterday, forwarding inquiries to the company's regional office in Hong Kong.
The thieves made off with shoes, wallets, ready-to-wear clothes and other items after disabling the building's alarm system by cutting the cables and misdirecting the surveillance cameras, police said.
The thieves pried open the front door, pulled up a security screen, backed a large vehicle into a loading bay and carried out the merchandise.
The items taken have a retail value of $1 million and wholesale value of about $650,000.
Hawaiian Isle Vendors' office and warehouse, several jewelry stores, supermarkets and other small businesses, all of whom utilize alarm systems set up by local companies, have been burglarized since October, police said.
In all but two of the 19 burglaries, the store or business did not have a backup alarm, although it is impossible to tell whether a store has a backup system without knowledge of the store setup.
In each case, the businesses' alarm systems were neutralized, most often by cutting wires, and police are reviewing who set up the systems in the burglarized stores and how the job was done.
The alarm systems were provided by a number of different companies.
Prior to the $1 million heist, the costliest take in the 19 burglaries was merchandise and cash valued at about $20,000, police said. Among the businesses burglarized are Schwartz Jewelers on Bethel Street, Flex-A-Kid Furniture on Kapi'olani Boulevard and Umeke Market on Kalaniana'ole Highway.
Representatives with the businesses declined comment yesterday.
For years, Honolulu's property crime rate including burglary has been higher than comparable Mainland jurisdictions. In 2003, for example, the city's property crime rate was higher than San Francisco, San Diego and Las Vegas, all cities that are used by HPD as benchmarks for policing practices and staffing issues.
Property crimes in general fell in 2005, a trend law enforcement officials credited to an increased effort to arrest and prosecute repeat property criminals.
The number of burglaries in Honolulu dropped last year to 6,208 from 7,240 in 2004.
During the first six months of 2006, burglaries have fallen off from the same period last year.
There were 3,070 burglaries from January to June 2005 compared with 2,629 in 2006.
Reach Peter Boylan at email@example.com.