East Hawaii News

3 Charged in Connection With Lychee Theft From Hilo Farm

June 13, 2022, 10:51 AM HST
* Updated June 14, 1:24 PM
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Three people from East Hawai‘i face charges in connection with an agricultural theft earlier this month.

According to a news release from the Hawai‘i County Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, 24-year-old Krislyn Ka‘ohinani Kauikeolani Chaves Palama of Hilo, 33-year-old Duston James Dominic Kealoha Bishop of Hilo and 32-year-old Jan Loren Bacsa Aguinaldo of Papaikou were arrested and charged with second-degree theft and second-degree criminal trespass in connection with a reported theft of lychee June 9 at a Hilo farm.

The more serious offense, second-degree theft, is a Class C felony, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison if convicted.

Palama and Aguinaldo remain in custody in lieu of $2,250 bail. They are scheduled to make their initial court appearances today, June 13, in Hilo District Court.

Bishop was released after posting $2,250 bail. His initial court appearance is scheduled later this month.

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The case was a coordinated effort between members of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement and members South Hilo Patrol and Community Policing Divisions of the Hawai‘i Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Deputy County Prosecuting Attorney Suzanna Tiapula.

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According to a community message from HPD, the charges stem from an incident June 9, when a DOCARE officer reported observing four people crossing the Wailuku River above Rainbow Falls, each carrying a large bag on their backs.

When the officer contacted the four subjects, one fled the area. A large amount of lychee was observed in a vehicle where the individuals were contacted and the owner of a nearby farm identified the fruit as coming from his orchards. Investigators executed search warrants on the vehicle and the bags the individuals were seen carrying, which resulted in the recovery of more than 150 pounds of lychee with an estimated value of more than $1,200.

HPD reminds the public that the theft of agricultural products that have a value of more than $100 or weigh more than 25 pounds is a felony offense punishable by up to five years imprisonment. Police also remind agricultural vendors that a certificate of ownership and movement is required whenever purchasing large amounts of agricultural products, which shall include the following information:

  • Seller’s name, residence address, telephone number and the license plate number of any vehicle used by the seller to deliver the commodity to the place of purchase.
  • Name of the farm owner and address of origin.
  • Name of the buyer or consignee and destination.
  • Signature of the seller and, upon sale, the signature of the buyer or consignee.
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“No prospective buyer or consignee shall purchase an agricultural commodity from a seller if the seller does not provide a copy of the ownership and movement certification and verification whenever required and shall report the attempted sale to the police,” the HPD message said.

HPD and the county prosecutor’s office remain committed to investigating and prosecuting people who steal agricultural products and vendors who purchase stolen agricultural products for resale.

“The theft of agricultural products is a growing problem that hurts the entire community by raising the cost of locally grown produce, which can adversely affect our island’s food sustainability,” Officer Christopher Fukumoto of the Hilo Community Policing Section said in the HPD message.

Big Island police ask that people report all suspected agricultural theft incidents to the HPD nonemergency line at 808-935-3311. Those who prefer to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers number at 808-961-8300.

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