LIHUE — The North Shore is on alert again after a string of burglaries dating back to July.
The Kauai Police Department issued a press release Friday warning about a rise in burglaries from Kilauea to Hanalei.
The most recent theft occurred Saturday night at the Villas of Kamalii in Princeville. According to police, one of the villas was entered through a screen door, when the occupant was home but in another room, and a wallet and computer were taken.
“Detectives are investigating a number of home, vacation rental, and car break-ins that have occurred in the North Shore community in recent weeks,” Police Chief Darryl Perry said. “We are asking the public for help in identifying the person or persons who may be responsible. Also, we encourage everyone to implement basic practices to help secure your property.”
Video footage from a Kilauea resident captured two young men, late teens or early 20s. They watched the occupied home from the window and entered a lanai door when the residents were in another room — running off with small items in close proximity.
Rory Enright, general manager of the Princeville at Hanalei Community Association, said this pattern of burglaries started around the Fourth of July holiday. More recently, a condominium complex experienced seven burglaries and three attempted burglaries, all by entering homes through a sliding glass door left open because of the heat.
“This seems to be very opportunistic, with the perpetrators just trying to get in and get out,” Enright said.
This scenario leaves a greater potential for the burglar to confront the resident, he said. It leaves a greater chance for someone getting hurt and that is a major concern.
“In my world it is not worth confronting them and I would keep my distance and call KPD,” Enright said. “Other people feel differently and would be more aggressive if someone invaded their house.”
Enright’s association formed a neighborhood watch program following a major burglary crisis in early 2012. Homeowners were watched and break-ins occurred during routine outings. The thieves targeted safes, jewelry and cash — anything of high value that could be carried away quickly.
The neighborhood watch included a database to track occupancy, houseworkers, contractors, landscapers, gardeners, pest control professionals and delivery people. It was successful, but perhaps everyone got a little comfortable with so many quiet months, he said. The latest burglaries prompted new meetings and everyone is on alert.
“The challenge is with the vacation rentals,” Enright said. “They are new and we consistently ask management to let the guests know to lock the doors even when they are in the unit.”
Enright said everyone should focus on prevention, and make sure doors are locked even when home. Windows and sliding doors should be locked in rooms that are not occupied.
The crime spree also extended into Kilauea.
A Kauapea Drive resident, who did not wish to be identified, said he experienced his first burglary the evening of Saturday, Aug. 30. When the owner could not find his phone and wallet on Sunday, his wife suggested checking the surveillance footage and they saw that cameras captured a burglary. He reported it to police and they are trying to identify the two young men.
“One was wearing a mask and the other was not,” he said. “They watched us having dinner with our guests before entering.”
The victim spent the week replacing lost identification and canceling credit cards. He is also doing what he can to prevent data theft from his iPhone.
“I feel very violated and my wife is very frightened now,” he said. “We are going out of our minds with worry and my wife won’t leave the windows open even when she’s home.”
The North Shore crime watch group, Community Against Thieves, posts rewards for the arrest and conviction of the burglars. The organization regularly attends sentencing hearings of burglars to help victims speak their concerns to the judge.
KPD recommends forming alliances to watch and report activity around homes in neighborhoods.
“We have been working with various neighborhood watch and community associations on these cases, and the partnership has been extremely helpful in sharing information in an effort to solve these crimes,” Chief Perry said. “The most effective way to avoid being a victim of property crime is to lock and secure doors and entryway at all times, even when you are home.”
Anyone with information on a recent theft is urged to call police immediately at 241-1711.
Tipsters wishing to remain anonymous can call CrimeStoppers, 241-1887. For information on Neighborhood Watch Programs contact Community Relations Sgt. Rod Green at 241-1669.