East Hawaii News

2 Hilo Men Arrested, Charged in Agricultural Theft Investigation

June 28, 2022, 5:01 PM HST
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Two Big Island men face charges in connection with an agricultural theft investigation by the Hawai’i Police Department.

According to a media release from the Hawai‘i Police Department, 32-year-old Jan Loren Aguinaldo of Hilo was arrested and charged with second-degree theft and 34-year-old Levin Padilla-Pelanca of Hilo was arrested and charged with second-degree theft and third-degree promoting a dangerous drug in connection with an agricultural theft case in Pāpa‘ikou.

Aguinaldo‘s bail was set at $5,000. Padilla-Pelanca’s total bail was set at $4,000. Both were slated to appear Tuesday for their initial court appearance.

The charges against the two men were brought by police after conferring Monday, June 27, with the county prosecutor’s office.

The charges stem from an incident that occurred Sunday, June 26, on a farm in the Pāpa‘ikou area. A witness reported observing a suspicious male carrying multiple bags of fruit and loading the bags into a vehicle that subsequently left the area. Police responded to a 9 a.m. report of the theft and determined that approximately $260 of mangosteen was removed from a neighboring farm without permission.

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In the course of their investigation, officers with HPD’s Hilo Patrol and Hilo Community Policing Section were able to identify and locate two suspects, Aguinaldo and Padilla-Pelanca, later that same day. They were subsequently arrested without incident at a Pāpa‘ikou residence.

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The Hawai‘i Police Department reminds the public that the theft of agricultural products, either with a value that exceeds $100 or agricultural products that 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:

  • The 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.
  • The name of the farm owner and address of origin.
  • The name of the buyer or consignee and destination.
  • The signature of the seller and, upon sale, the signature of the buyer or consignee.

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.

“Vendors who purchase produce without verifying a grower’s certificate are not only being irresponsible by creating a market for stolen fruit, they are also committing the act of theft by receiving stolen property,” Officer Christopher Fukumoto of the Hilo Community Policing Section said in the media release.

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Police encourage the public to report all suspected agricultural theft incidents by calling the HPD’s nonemergency number at 808-935-3311. Those who prefer to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 808-961-8300.

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