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West Hawai’i Officer Honored For Quickly Solving Theft Investigation

July 13, 2022, 11:30 AM HST
* Updated July 12, 4:41 PM
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A West Hawai‘i crime prevention organization recently honored an officer with the Hawai‘i Police Department for his quick action in connection with a theft at a local business.

Officer Eli Cayetano

The Kona Crime Prevention Committee named Officer Eli Cayetano as its Officer of the Month for July during an awards ceremony at Huggo’s on the Rocks in Kona.

On April 8, Cayetano overheard a call about an active theft at a local business. Aware of the details of another theft that occurred at the same business earlier in the day, Cayetano had reason to think the same individuals might be responsible for both thefts, according to a media release from the police department. Cayetano broadcasted the suspects’ names and license plate to his fellow officers.

Within a matter of minutes, members of HPD’s Traffic Enforcement Unit located the suspects’ vehicle about 2 miles away from the scene of the theft. As Cayetano responded to the business to obtain statements and determine what items were stolen, Traffic Enforcement Unit officers conducted a traffic stop on the suspect’s vehicle, which was occupied by two men. During the traffic stop, officers observed several items within the vehicle thought to be stolen from the business.

According to the media release, the driver of the vehicle also had methamphetamine and a glass smoking pipe in his possession. Both he and the male passenger were arrested, and numerous stolen items recovered from within the vehicle were later returned to the store.

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Interviewing both suspects, Cayetano learned that a third male was involved who ended up being the “mastermind” of the theft scheme, according to the media release. Cayetano was able to identify the third man through photo stills from the store’s video surveillance and set about conducting a search for him.

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When Cayetano and other officers arrived at a campsite, they discovered more items stolen from the store but learned the suspect was not there. After recovering the stolen items, Cayetano located the suspect a short distance away wearing the same clothing he was seen wearing in the store’s video surveillance footage. When Cayetano contacted the suspect, the man immediately confessed and was arrested, according to the media release.

After conferring with the county prosecutor’s office, all three men were charged with felony theft.

The Kona Crime Prevention Committee each month honors a police officer in West Hawai‘i as Officer of the Month. Officers are nominated by their supervisors and a winner is selected by the committee’s board of directors.

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All officers selected as Officer of the Month are eligible to be named the Kona Crime Prevention Committee’s Officer of the Year.

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