Tape reveals clues to gas station burglary

The burglar who ripped off the Old Cannery Fuels Co. Saturday broke into its cash-accepting machine 20 minutes after it had been emptied — but the suspect’s bad luck didn’t end there.

The Kapa‘a gas station, formerly called Kawaihau Fuels, doubles as the control center for a video surveillance company that has been arming businesses on-island with security monitoring systems for the past year.

So when the man arrived at the pump at 5:42 p.m. last weekend, the cameras were rolling.

“At the exact time he was wrestling with our pump on-camera, our computer was screaming at us telling us the door (to the cash-accepting machine) was open,” Kevin Hurst, co-owner of the gas station and Hawaii Video Surveillance, said.

Hurst said his computer is in sync with pump activity and sends a signal when they are open and closed.

Hurst and co-owner Chris Jensen said they hope the coordination of those signals as well as the video surveillance will help nab the person responsible for stealing $50 in cash and damaging their $30,000 gas pump, which houses a $6,000 cash safe that will have to be replaced.

The damages coupled with dollars lost from the disruption of business — the company brings in roughly $4,500 on Sundays — is a tough pill for Jensen to swallow. However, the situation could be worse, he said, had the burglar hit the machine an hour earlier, or if the footage had been lost.

The grainy video shows a man pulling up to the pump and leaving shortly after 5:42 p.m., when another car pulled up behind him.

He returned about eight minutes later, Jensen said.

That’s when he began banging on the machine.

Frustrated, Jensen explained how the damage the burglar caused to get inside the machine — including cutting the lock and hammering on metal — was overkill.

“It’s a plastic cartridge that you can slide out,” he said. “You know a cell phone battery? That’s how easy it is to slide. He must have been a monkey.”

Jensen said the reason the gas station isn’t usually manned is because it helps keep the prices down, which, at press time, were at the per-gallon rate of $3.49 for regular, $3.59 for diesel and $3.69 for premium.

Eager to identify the man, Jensen and Hurst are offering a $200 reward for information that could lead to the burglar’s capture.

Though police have viewed the tape, no arrests have been made in this case or the series of Kapa‘a and Kalaheo burglaries that plagued several other county businesses over the past month and a half. Kaua‘i Police Department officials declined to comment for this story.

Recent Kapa‘a targets include the Olympic Cafe, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Wasabi’s, Activity Warehouse, Sweet Marie’s Hawai‘i Inc., the Original Red Dirt Shirt Co. and the Boys & Girls Club. Businesses that were burglarized in Kalaheo include the Menehune Food Mart, Camp House Grill and Holy Cross Church.

Though Jensen and Hurst are anxious to recoup their losses, the spike in burglaries, ironically, might have helped Hurst and Jensen’s surveillance business, as they have outfitted roughly a dozen clients in the county with security monitoring systems.

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