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Kealakehe High School Target of Rash of Burglaries Last School Year

By Max Dible
July 24, 2021, 4:37 PM HST
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Kealakehe High School
Kealakehe High School. PC: KHS

The start of the new school year in Hawai´i is less than two weeks away, and while widespread considerations tend to include carpools and pandemic safety protocols, one Big Island institution has recently been forced to address a less common concern — a rash of burglaries.

The Hawai´i Police Department confirmed to Big Island Now that Kealakehe High School was the target of five separate burglaries between October 2020 and February 2021. HPD opened cases for all five incidents, during which upwards of $16,000 in property was removed unlawfully from the grounds.

School Resource Officer Joel Furuto, of the Kona Community Policing Section, said that the “…burglary investigations (were) initiated at Kealakehe High School as a result of unlawful entry into structures, where there was evidence of intent to commit further crimes.”

Everything from computers to cafeteria items were taken from various buildings at the high school over the five-month stretch in question. Below is a comprehensive list of each incident and the items taken, as well as their approximate values.

Incident No. 1: Occurred between midnight of Oct. 23 and midnight of Oct. 25, 2020.

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Items Stolen

  • Dewalt cordless drill $319.00   
  • Kobalt 24 Volt drill $199.00
  • Milwaukee M12 impact Drill $129.00
  • Skilsaw Worm Drive $399.00
  • Electrician Tool Kit $289.00
  • Craft socket Set $150.00
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Incident No. 2: Occurred between 4:30 pm on Nov. 24 and 12:15 pm Dec. 1, 2020.

Items Stolen

  • (2) Hydrogen Peroxide bottles, total estimated value for both is $4
  • (2) Rubbing alcohol, total value of $5
  • (2) boxes of miscellaneous bandages, total value is $10
  • Craft wire, black-in-color, estimated value of $3
  • Miscellaneous pens $5
  • One set of Logitech speakers, black-in-color, estimated value is $100
  • Diffuser, gray-in-color, used for essential oils, valued at $15
  • (3) bottles of essential oils, total value $60
  • Miscellaneous pens removed from the top of GOOCHEY’s desk, valued at $5
  • One bag of Wasabi Peas, valued at $5

Incident No. 3: Occurred between 4:25 pm on Dec. 1 and 5:30 am on Dec. 2, 2020.

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Items Stolen

  • (Black) Canon PowerShot SX500 IS SN 522051022242, and State Barcode 392-8118
  • Further items were believed to have been possibly taken but could not be positively ascertained at the time of report due to disarray of scene and quantity of items possessed/moved. They included kitchen knives described as higher quality, and possibly inscribed “KSS” or “KHS” on the blade, or “knifeguard.” They further include a Panasonic Home Hawk surveillance monitoring system, possibly bearing serial number 8FASA057075.

Incident No. 4: Occurred between 3:30 pm on Jan. 23 and 5:15 am on Jan. 25, 2021.

Items Stolen

  • An Echo weed eater, orange in color, School Decal No. 392-1288 $450.00
  • A Ryobi hand blower, School Decal No. 392-1291 $140.00
  • A Stihl weed eater, Model No. FS91R, Serial No. 512239482, School Decal No. 392-9053, valued at $359.37
  • A Stihl FS111R weed eater, orange in color, Serial No. 512360003, School Decal No. 392-9055, valued at $359.37
  • A Stihl weed eater, Model No. FS1110R, Serial No. 5081502567, School Decal No. 392-29059, retail value of $379
  • A Stihl chainsaw, Model No. MS193T, Serial No. 511450517, School Decal No. 392-9067, valued at $479.95
  • Bluetooth Headphones $29.00
  • IPOD Charger $10.00
  • DEWALT BATTERY $69.00 

Incident No. 5: Occurred between 3:30 pm on Jan. 29 and 7 am on Feb. 1, 2021.

Items Stolen

  • Older model iPhone (Serial #3549120093110698) disconnected from cellular service; no estimated value
  • One Pathfinder charger sound system; valued at $249.99                   
  • Four Xpen tablets; valued at $59.98                                                 
  • One Milwaukee power tool set; valued at $685.30                             
  • One Dell XPS laptop for C and C Mill; valued at $1,300                      
  • One Inspire drone; valued at $2,399                                    
  • Four small drones kited; total value of $300                         
  • Four Onn virtual reality smart phone headset; valued at $14.99                      
  • One Kotion Each G2000 gaming headset; valued at $52                     
  • One compact handsaw; valued at $19.97                                          
  • One Samsonite hard shell suitcase; valued at $99                              
  • One GoPro Hero 7 waterproof camera, black; valued at $399
  • One Bose Sound Link revolve portable bluetooth 360; valued at $199
  • Three Samsung Galaxy Tablet 8; total value of $450              
  • One Canon Vixia HF Memory camcorder; valued at $999.95   
  • One Canon EOS Rebel SL1 digital SLS; valued at $599                       
  • Two HP Sprocket portable photo printer; total value of $448
  • Three Pelican 1510 case; total value of $199.95                                
  • Gartol mitter shears; valued at $32.99                                 
  • One Flir 1 Gen3 IOS thermal camera; valued at $199
  • Seven Vernier dual range four sensor; valued at $763                        
  • Seven Vernier Go Link items; total value of $483                              
  • Eight Handheld propane tanks; valued at $99.94                              
  • Four miscellaneous weight sets; valued at $189                                 
  • Two Coleman 13-by-13 shelter; valued at $279.98                            
  • One Costco hand truck; valued at $99.99                                         
  • One HP Stream, (Serial # 5CD5526TFD), valued at $1,000

“It should be noted that all item valuations are subject to change, obtained initially through preliminary investigations and include estimates provided by complainants and their authorized representatives,” Furuto explained. “Continued investigations often result in altered valuation values as more qualified professional purveyors of specific goods are contacted.” 

Investigations Result in One Arrest

Furuto said investigators have made some progress into the burglaries at Kealakehe High School. Police have arrested and charged a 38-year-old male suspect, Jason Delatorre, with two counts of Burglary in the second-degree and two counts of Theft in the fourth-degree in connection with the second and third burglaries listed above. 

“Stolen goods connected with both investigations were recovered subsequent to his arrest,” Furuto said. “I can not comment on the existence or non-existence of additional suspects in the other investigations, at least one of which remains (ongoing) and is being actively investigated.”

Speculation as to the nature of other potential perpetrators has occurred throughout the community, with suggestions that members of the Big Island’s homeless population may be responsible, but police and county officials say such accusations are irresponsible and not supported by current evidence.

Hawai´i County is planning to situate 64 emergency shelter units on a parcel of land near the high school, as well as a 24/7 assessment center, all as part of an initiative to combat island homelessness. However, the project — Kukuiola, formerly known as Village 9 — has yet to break ground, as confirmed to Big Island Now by the County Office of Housing and Community Development.

In other words, no formerly homeless individuals are living there yet, as it is merely an empty, and relatively clear, plot of land.

Furuto said there have been minor police actions taken against some homeless individuals in the general vicinity of the high school. However, a homeless presence existed in that area, and other areas immediately surrounding it, for years before any of the five reported burglaries at Kealakehe last school year.

“There were numerous trespass notices issued to unauthorized persons on private property close to the Kealakehe High School during late January of 2021,” Furuto explained. “The trespass notices were issued by the authorized representatives of land parcels with police assistance.”

“The individuals and areas affected were adjacent to Ane Keohokalole Highway, south of the school,” he continued. “No investigative link could be ascertained during this operation, although 17 persons in the area were assisted in finding housing.”

Kealakehe Response Halts Criminal Activity

Dr. James Denight, the principal at Kealakehe, did not begin in his capacity with the high school until after the last reported burglary had already occurred. He said there have been no break-ins since that time.

At least one reason the crimes have stopped, he believes, is due to preventative measures taken by the school.

“To be sure, we’ve alarmed some of the buildings. It’s building-to-building. It’s school-wide,” Denight said. “Once we armed the buildings, it stopped.”

Anyone with information on the burglaries at Kealakehe High School is encouraged to contact the police department’s non-emergency line at 808-935-3311.

Max Dible
Max Dible is the News Director for both Big Island Now and Kauai Now. He also serves as News Director for Pacific Media Group's Hawai‘i Island family of radio stations.
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