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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 28, 2006

Burglars victimize Kailua shops

By Peter Boylan
Advertiser Staff Writer

More than 10 Kailua businesses have been burglarized in the past month, two of them twice, and frustrated owners have lost more than $1,000 in cash and damaged property, Honolulu police said.

The thieves, believed to be a group of young homeless men, have broken through back doors, climbed through service entrances on roofs, and pushed out air conditioners to enter the businesses, police said. Unfortunately, the thieves have left very little evidence and no fingerprints, police said.

In some cases, the thieves have taken as little as $15 in quarters, but one heist netted at least $1,000 in bills, police said.

Philip Markowski's Kailua computer store was broken into twice in three days earlier this month.

"It's 150 percent frustrating. It takes so much time out of my day and then I can't sleep at night," said Markowski, who with his wife, Betty, owns the Mac Made Easy franchise, which opened a Kailua location two months ago. "I have theft and fraud on my mind 24-7. It's become an unpleasant thing to be, a retailer."

In addition to making off with almost $200 in cash, the thieves knocked out Markowski's wall-mounted air-conditioning unit and toppled a filing cabinet. The business next door to Markow-ski's, Kimo's Surf Hut, also was burglarized, and more than $400 was taken, police said.

The string of break-ins highlights a trend of burglaries in the Kailua/Kane'ohe police district, which has experienced a burglary at least once a day, or 36 so far this year, police said. The manner in which the Kailua burglars are breaking into businesses is similar, police say, to a group currently operating in East Honolulu.

Police are not sure if the two groups are collaborating but detectives in each police district are comparing case notes and evidence, police said.

Owners and employees of the burglarized businesses are working to secure their buildings and quell their frustration.

Harry Pang, owner of Hamakua Autobody at 160 Hamakua Drive, said thieves busted a hole through the back wall of his store to get inside. Fortunately, they did not appear to steal anything, he said, but all of Kailua town is buzzing about who these guys could be.

If the men are homeless, they must have been security technicians at one time, Pang said, because after breaking into his shop they disabled his alarm system.

"Somebody must know what they're doing," he said yesterday. "I wish they would catch the guys. It's kind of frustrating."

Kailua Florist, at 29 Oneawa St., has been burglarized twice, once Dec. 23 and then again Tuesday.

Store employee Desiree Correia, 29, is convinced the same people are breaking into the store she has worked at for a decade. On Tuesday, thieves came in through the back door and made off with all the loose change they could find.

"What can we do?," she said.

Reach Peter Boylan at pboylan@honoluluadvertiser.com.