School burglary 03-07-07

PHONE:  962-2252 
MARCH 7, 2007
REPORT NO. C07007786


Big Island police arrested three people Tuesday (February 6) in the course of an investigation into eight classrooms that were broken into at Kaumana Elementary School the previous evening. Arrested were 18-year-old Dustin Higa and two juvenile males, all of Hilo.

South Hilo patrol officers were summoned to the school just after 7 a.m. Tuesday when several teachers discovered that their classrooms had been entered sometime after the end of the previous school day. 

To expedite the investigation and allow the students to begin class as soon as possible, detectives assigned to the Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Section responded to the scene and assisted with the investigation. There they learned that the suspects had forcefully entered each of the eight affected classrooms — two of which were for students with special needs — and removed computer monitors, laptop computers, a digital camera and additional computer equipment with a combined value of nearly $15,000. The damage from the forced entry exceeds $1,500. The culprits fled the area without immediate detection.

Investigators soon found some of the stolen property in nearby bushes and were able to track the suspects’ path of flight. They later found several more of the stolen items in the bushes on nearby Akolea Road. The investigation eventually led police to the three suspects who lived a few miles away from the school.

The remaining stolen property was recovered and the trio placed under arrest. 

A 14-year-old boy was charged with eight counts of second-degree burglary and was released to his guardian. 

A 17-year-old boy was charged with eight counts of second-degree burglary and one count of second-degree attempted assault for trying to attack one of his co-conspirators after police confronted them. He was released to the custody of Family Court probation and later transported to a juvenile detention facility on Oahu. 

Higa is in custody at the police cellblock as police continue their investigation.

Lieutenant Randall Medeiros of the Criminal Investigations Section credited the quick recovery and subsequent arrests to excellent teamwork between the patrol officers and detectives. "There was a lot of work that needed to be done in as short a period of time as possible so as to minimize the negative impact on the children’s school day," Medeiros said. 

He specifically acknowledged the efforts of Officer Derek Morimoto and Detective Ian LeeLoy, who he said were "tenacious" in tracking down the suspects. 

"There were no high-tech gadgets involved here," Medeiros said."It was good old-fashioned police work that solved this case so quickly and with such great success."      

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