Watch out for ‘sharks’ on land, prowling beaches

Warnings to watch for sharks hit local media when October arrived. It seems that the percentage of shark attacks and bites shows as higher in this tenth month of the year, said the TV reporter. The reason? Maybe because female sharks are entering shallower waters to give birth.

No word was mentioned about how, when Makahiki rains usually begin in earnest this month, all streams and rivers swell and flood into the ocean. The red mud churned and carried along stains the fringing waters of our islands. Within the murky waters spreading from our river mouths and bays float debris and occasional drowned animals, drawing predators.

Our beach safety campaign publicizes warnings to ocean-goers about swimming in murky waters because of reduced visibility and the possibility of being injured by floating branches and logs.

Today’s “Green Flash” is rising to angry red-orange in flashing out a message that is not about the shark watch cited above, but about another kind of “shark” that is patrolling our beach parks.

This particular shark variety stations itself somewhere in or near parking lots to popular swimming beaches. This despicable variety of shark watches people arrive, park their cars, then sneakily follows a particular party (staying unnoticed) to check out where they drop their beach bag and towel before entering the water to enjoy snorkeling or swimming.

When sure that the swimmer’s attention is elsewhere, the “buggah” calmly strolls down and picks up the beach bag or car keys tucked in shoes or folded clothes, then heads back to the parking area.

No one suspects a theft is in progress to sound a warning signal because the human shark no doubt keeps it as normal as can be, as if they’re retrieving their own belongings and locating their own vehicle.

Instead of ripping off limbs, this two-legged predator is bent on acquiring the result of someone else’s work and savings. A simple click of the magnetic key opens the car, and while the true owner is still oblivious to a robbery in progress, the shark rifles their car, swipes their purse or wallet (or else) and any other items of value within the vehicle, and then disappears. In addition, a resident’s house key is often attached to the car keys, and the home address may be easily found in the registration that’s required to be kept in the glove compartment.

If you live on Kauai and you’re the victim of such an “attack,” it follows that if your car is not stolen and/or trashed, it’s open to another break-in anytime. Not only that, but you will not feel safe at home in the knowledge that some dishonest individual has a key to let them in at will depending on their whim and low intention — an extremely vulnerable position in which to be placed.

A person I know, a respected kupuna, was recently victimized in this way at Morgan’s Pond while swimming laps for health and wellness. When I heard what had transpired in a place I often visit and enjoy along with countless others, my temperature rose.

It could well have been any one of us who had to replace important identification cards and cancel debit and credit cards. This person I mentioned was left with her rubber slippers still on the beach (!) and car still in the parking lot, but purse and keys stolen. The lifeguards helped by calling her home, and luckily a spare key could be brought. But the matter of changing locks remains, an expensive proposition in a bite-the-bullet situation to put further stress on the victim.

Even though this column’s usual focus is on what brings us the feeling of “lucky-we-live-Kauai” or the uplifting pleasure of unexpected and joy-inspiring events in our lives, this writer is no Pollyanna. Most of us learn quite young that there exists a dark and seamy side to life, and that many individuals believe they have a right to possessions of value that others have earned and acquired, just “because.”

The thing that “gets” me about the beach sharks described is the plotting, the premeditated act of stealing slamming into my consciousness to put me on the alert and remind me that paradise, indeed, is far from perfect. I have previously met visitors who had their vacation money and electronics stolen and thought what a sour taste this must leave them with after dreaming, waiting and saving to travel to the Garden Island. This is nothing new.

When police reporter Georgia Mossman was still covering arrests and penning her “Police Blotter” some years back, she kept her references to low-class individuals who were pilfering and breaking the law in many different ways toward the light side, e.g. “some idiot.” I follow my former associate’s lead.

However, the kind of planned looting described takes more than waggling a pointer finger and pinning the guilty party with the dirtiest look anyone could muster. It takes more than saying, “What would your grandmother think if she could see you now?” or administering a proverbial slap on the hand.

We don’t hack off the hands of thieves in our society. How about throwing these “honyats” out with the other — the piscean — sharks that are just attending to their shark-y business and letting karma take its course?

Seriously, be warned and aware. Keep watch for two-legged sharks on the lookout to rob you or others — in your neighborhood, out and around, or at the beach. Don’t hesitate to question and sound the alarm, if needed.

•••

Dawn Fraser Kawahara, author and poet, made her home on Kauai over 30 years ago. She and her husband, a retired biology teacher, live quietly with books, music and birds in Wailua Homesteads. The writer’s books may be found in local outlets and through Amazon.

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