LIHU‘E — Having something stolen while on vacation is a nightmare. One visitor is sending accolades to the island and its police for making sure her family’s Kaua‘i trip was a happy one.
Jeanne Nadeau of Malibu, Calif. was here on vacation with her husband and nine year-old daughter last month. On June 25, her second day on the island, they started the day with breakfast at Tip Top Motel in Lihu‘e.
The battery of Nadeau’s smart phone was running low, so she asked if she could charge her $350 phone in a fairly hidden spot of the restaurant. When her family finished breakfast, Nadeau went to retrieve the phone, only to find out it had been stolen sometime between 8 and 8:45 a.m.
If it was just a cell phone, Nadeau said she would probably not have bothered to report it. This was a smart phone, however, and she said its more of a hand-held computer with her emails and contact lists, along with sensitive privacy data that makes it more important than the value of the phone itself.
“My work and my whole world is in that,” she added.
Reporting the stolen phone was an act of desperation. She provided as much information as possible but said she didn’t have any hopes of ever seeing it again.
“We live in Malibu,” she said. “It is just not going to happen.”
Within five minutes of her call, Nadeau said that Officer W Takemoto of KPD Patrol Services Bureau’s Lihu‘e district, met with them and put together the story before following up with the restaurant management.
Tip Top manager Jonathan Ota said that a surveillance system has been in place for several years and not only captures criminal activity for evidence — it acts as a crime deterrent.
Ota said that he and Takemoto reviewed the surveillance video and made a copy for KPD.
According to KPD, Takemoto recognized two of the three people in the video who were near the area where the phone was taken. He located and approached one of the suspects later that morning, who reportedly attempted to flee on foot and dropped the stolen phone.
Takemoto and his supervisor, Sgt. Todd Tanaka, were able to apprehend the suspect and recover the phone. They later arrested Joshua “Kamaka” Fernandez, 22, of Anahola, at about 12:02 p.m. for an outstanding bench warrant and second degree theft. He is currently being held at Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center.
“(Takemoto) recognized the people and it’s lucky that we had surveillance or we would have had no idea who took it,” said Ota. “The police did a good job and responded immediately and then went out to look for them.”
Nadeau said Takemoto not only identified the suspects but that he deduced where they were likely headed next and went patrolling the areas until he spotted them. She learned later that the suspects eluded capture once and that it was a difficult arrest with backup when they were spotted again later.
“I guess there was a bit of a struggle and he was able to get my possessions,” she said. “Apparently there were one or two people involved.”
Within three hours of first contact, Takemoto contacted Nadeau about identifying the smart phone and charger.
“I just want to thank Officer Takemoto and the police,” Nadeau said. “It is amazing and no one believes my story on the mainland.”
KPD Capt. Michael Contrades of the Patrol Services Bureau said the department commends Takemoto for his quick response to this case.
“Because of his diligence, Officer Takemoto was able to return the stolen item to its rightful owner and apprehend a wanted suspect,” Contrades said. “This case also serves as an example of how helpful surveillance cameras can be in solving property crimes.”
Ota said he plans to write a letter to KPD and commend Takemoto.
Nadeau said she also thanks the people of Kaua‘i for having such good service and for “turning a bad situation into a fantastic vacation.” They come to the islands every year and she said this incident could have ruined their Hawai‘i experience — but instead it has strengthened their affection and longing to return.
“Our family enjoyed the time there very much,” she added. “It was really nice to have such a great ending to our story because we visit the islands every year.”
The Nadeau family returned to Tip Top the next day to eat and to thank the owner again.
“I got the feeling that Tip Top was an important community restaurant and I got the feeling they were protecting us as a new family there,” Nadeau said. “I love that restaurant.”