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Puna Men Charged in Connection to Stolen Vehicles Recovered in Shipman Industrial Park

May 2, 2022, 9:59 AM HST
* Updated May 2, 1:14 PM
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Authorities have charged two Puna men with an array of property, firearm and drug offenses.

Forty-eight-year-old John Patrick Rapozo, and 44-year-old Kiha Rodney Stone Kaʻahu were taken into custody on Thursday, April 28, after encountering Hawaiʻi police who were responding to a report of a stolen vehicle on Kalara Street, in the Shipman Industrial Park, in Keaʻau.

As officers were preparing to converge onto the commercial property, the stolen vehicle exited onto Kalara Street. The operator, identified as Kaʻahu, immediately accelerated to avoid police contact and drove the stolen vehicle across Kipimana Street into the field of a nearby nursery, damaging agricultural property. Moments later, Kaʻahu and his female passenger, 39-year-old Maria Kaululani Moala, were arrested as they attempted to flee the stolen vehicle that had become immobilized.

As police were further investigating at the Kalara Street business, another stolen vehicle was observed approaching the area. Upon seeing police in the area, the stolen vehicle operator immediately turned around and fled the area at a high rate of speed down Kipimana Street. Police were able to identify the operator as Rapozo. A short time later the vehicle was involved in a traffic casualty near the intersection of Route 11 and Highway 139; the stolen vehicle left the scene and began traveling back towards Hilo. A short time later, witnesses observed Rapozo abandoning the vehicle on Shipman property off of Kipimana Street, opposite the entrance to the Shipman Industrial Park.

Police immediately created a perimeter of the wooded area where Rapozo was last seen. At 5:45 p.m., Rapozo was located hiding in the center-median area of Highway 11 and Kipimana Street. He was arrested without further incident.

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Both stolen vehicles were recovered as evidence pending execution of the search warrants, and the eventual return to the lawful owners.

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Execution of search warrants on the vehicle being operated by Rapozo and a backpack recovered in his possession, yielded a loaded firearm and ammunition, as well as 6.8 grams of methamphetamine.

Charges against Rapozo and Kaʻahu were filed on Saturday. Rapozo faces two counts of first-degree unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, two counts of first-degree theft, first-degree criminal property damage, resist order to stop motor vehicle, ownership or possession prohibited, ownership or possession prohibited (un-serialized pistol, “ghost gun”), two counts ownership or possession prohibited (ammunition), possession of high-capacity magazine prohibited and second-degree promotion of a dangerous drug.

Rapozo’s bail for the above offenses is set at $235,000.

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Additionally, Rapozo was charged with first-degree promotion of a dangerous drug and resist order to stop motor vehicle, stemming from an incident in January 2022, investigated by the Area I Vice Section. Bail for those offenses was set at $60,000.

Kaʻahu was charged with first-degree unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, first-degree theft, first-degree criminal property damage and third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug.

Execution of a search warrant on the vehicle being operated by Kaʻahu yielded various drug paraphernalia items with a measurable amount of methamphetamine; as well as items linked to additional crimes still under investigation.

Kaʻahu’s bail for the above offenses is set at $70,000.

Rapozo and Kaʻahu remain in custody pending their initial court appearance scheduled for Monday, May 2, 2022, in Hilo District Court.

Moala was released from police custody on Saturday afternoon, pending further investigation.

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