Police link burglaries

Police believe that a series of Kapa‘a burglaries could be connected to several recent break-ins on the South Shore.

The Olympic Cafe, Activity Warehouse, Sweet Marie’s Hawai‘i Inc., St. Catherine Church, Wasabi’s, the Original Red Dirt Shirt Co. and the Boys & Girls Club — which was hit twice in three days — were among several recent Kapa‘a targets, following a rash of similar crimes reported in the Po‘ipu and Kalaheo area within the past month.

Assistant Chief Roy Asher said yesterday police have recovered evidence from the Kapa‘a burglaries that implicates at least one suspect, Stephen Makanani, 22, of Kapa‘a. The link was made after Makanani had been arrested and released May 2 pending further charges.

Police have since stepped up patrol measures to solve the burglaries — which have affected at least a dozen businesses — while aiming at preventing more from happening, Asher said.

Marie Castle had officially opened her gluten-free dessert shop, Sweet Marie’s Hawai‘i, just three days before it was burglarized. Castle’s business was one of four to be broken into May 8.

Upon arriving early to kick off her new work-week, Castle found the window broken and roughly $200-worth of tools missing, she said.

The burglar(s) used her tools to pry open the entrance next door, at Activity Warehouse, across the street from McDonald’s.

“They really sabotaged Activity Warehouse,” Castle said. “They threw T-shirts all over the place, dumped boxes out. Then they went through file boxes. When they got to the safe, they broke my hammer trying to get in there.”

Once inside, it must have been disappointing for the suspect(s), John McFarland, general manager for Two-Wheels Rentals, said.

“They tried to beat on a safe nobody uses, and broke into the drop box, but there was nothing in it,” he said. “It had been emptied that day.”

Nothing was stolen from another one of the May 8 targets, the Boys & Girls Club. The May 8 burglary marked the second time in three days that the nonprofit, housed at Kapa‘a High School, was burglarized.

Keith Cruikshank, the group’s regional director, said burglar(s) overlooked laptops, cash and computers.

“They tried to get into some file cabinets,” he said. “I think they were looking for something specific.”

Jakki Nelson, general manager for the Olympic Cafe, a Kapa‘a establishment that also has been hit two times within the past year, said both times, the burglar(s) came right for the office, overlooking alcohol, computers and iPods and getting away with roughly $1,000 in petty cash and $300-worth of employee tips.

“Our office was full of wine, our liquor was behind the bar,” she said. “They were strictly after money.”

Though the motive of the burglar(s) is unknown at this time, police are honing in on the common threads throughout the cases, which includes stolen — and recovered — cash registers.

Though several store owners didn’t have anything of value inside the cash registers before they were damaged by the burglar(s), the method does demonstrate some consistency, Asher said.

However, had the cash registers been unlocked as well as empty, it could have prevented some headaches, he said.

Looking ahead, police are suggesting businesses in the area consider using surveillance systems.

McFarland and Castle have already taken those steps, though McFarland was hesitant to give out that piece of information.

“I’d rather catch ‘em in the act,” he said.

• Amanda C. Gregg, assistant editor, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or agregg@kauaipubco.com.

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