Suspects Bumble Through Burglary in Waimea

August 27, 2019, 12:08 PM HST (Updated August 28, 2019, 3:05 PM)
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One of two suspects who robbed Waimea Coffee Company on the night of Saturday, Aug. 23, 2019. PC: Max Mejia

Waimea Coffee Company was burgled over the weekend by a pair of suspects who, according to the owner of the business, made some head-scratching decisions leading up to and during the crime.

Just before 11 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, two men in makeshift masks used a crowbar to break into the back window of the coffee shop, which is situated near an alley.

Waimea Coffee Company owner Michael Mejia, who goes by Max, said the two fumbled their way through the store for roughly five minutes, making off with a couple thousand dollars in cash and various items while causing roughly the same amount of damage.

It wasn’t the first time Waimea Coffee Company has dealt with a break-in. Mejia said a former employee robbed the coffee shop roughly four years ago. But this time around was a little different. The two suspects Saturday made some curious decisions, Mejia said, which may tip off their identities.

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“These guys didn’t know where anything was,” said Mejia, referencing security footage that captured the crime. “It wasn’t an inside job. They used a crowbar to break into a cash register that had a key hanging in (the lock). And there were only coins inside.”

The two men then used the crowbar to pry the safe out of the ground, which they dragged out the backdoor, causing significant floor damage.

Mejia said the suspects left behind a full spray can at the entry point, which appeared to be blackout tinting for a car. Mejia presumed the plan was to use the spray to blot out multiple video cameras, but that never happened and the suspects either forgot about the spray can or abandoned it, leaving behind evidence.

Alan Richmond, public information officer for the Hawai‘i Police Department (HPD), confirmed the Friday burglary. He said police have dusted for prints and continue the investigation, although HPD had no official suspects as of Tuesday.

Based on security camera footage, Mejia said the two men appeared to be local, each between the heights of 5 feet, 1 inch and 5 feet, 6 inches. They each had hats and/or hoodies on with shirts tied around their faces. However, there were some potential identifiers.

One man wore dark-colored Nike shoes with a light tread, either gray or white. The bag that the criminals used to pack up the money had the words DNA Basketball written on the side. DNA Basketball Academy is an all-girls traveling basketball program out of Papaikou in East Hawai‘i.

Mejia said one man had a tattoo on his left arm that ended at roughly the cuff line of his t-shirt. It’s not clear based on video evidence precisely what the tattoo is, he continued.

The getaway vehicle used in the robbery of Waimea Coffee Company on Friday, Aug. 23, 2019. PC: Max Mejia

While it’s not possible to makeout clearly the license plates, parking lot security cameras also captured video of the getaway vehicle, which Mejia described as a newer model Honda or Toyota. The vehicle is a silver four-door with black wheels, he continued.

And there were witnesses. One witness told Mejia after the fact that he remembered seeing three men loitering in the parking lot before the crime while the business was still open. Security footage confirmed the accuracy of the witness’s recollection.

On Friday evenings, Waimea Coffee Company hosts a music showcase. A witness who’d attended the show told Mejia and police afterward that he recalled at least one of the men circling the coffee shop three times, moving in and out of the bushes.

Anyone with any information on the burglary may contact HPD’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311.

Max Dible
Max Dible is a reporter for Big Island Now. He will also serve in a news capacity for Pacific Media Group's Hawai‘i Island family of radio stations. He formerly worked as a community reporter for West Hawai‘i Today in Kailua-Kona from 2016 to 2019. Before that, he was a sports editor, sports reporter and radio talk show personality with the Iowa State Daily and KURE 88.5 FM, respectively, in Ames, Iowa. He's won several regional and national journalism awards, at both the collegiate and professional levels, for breaking news, long-form feature writing and his work as a sports columnist.
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