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Ian Lind • Online daily from Kaaawa, Hawaii

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Burglar identified, crime solved!

March 17th, 2014 · 28 Comments

First Draft: This burglary case came to a surprising ending late Sunday.

Earlier in the day, the photos went viral, especially on Facebook, as people posted and reposted them. I received calls from all over Honolulu and from several places on the mainland, as people examined the pictures and saw a resemblance to someone they know. Then there were two local television stations which decided to run stories on the case. Capturing photos of the burglary in progress apparently made it news.

The crowdsourcing brought results. Quite a number of people–more than a dozen–contacted me and independently named a Hauula man as the person in the photo. Some said they saw answers posted online on other Facebook pages with the man’s name as well. Many were quite positive in making this identification. As it turns out, they were wrong. That’s an important lesson that we all have to deal with.

The case turned late in the day with a phone call from an unidentified man. “I know the person in the photo,” he said. “But I want to talk to him before I say more.”

I thanked him, and told him he could contact me at any time. The call ended. I wondered if it was for real. The answer came several hours later.

We had finished our dinner, cleaned up, and were in that awkward period at the end of the day where it’s just a little too early to go to bed, but too late to start anything new.

Then my cell phone rang again. It was about 8:10 p.m. It was the same man. He said he was in Kaneohe, and wanted to come out to meet me. He had, he said, retrieved most of what had been taken from our house.

I gave him directions to our house, and within 30 minutes I saw his headlights as the truck pulled up to our driveway.

The short version is that the burglar is a member of this man’s family, and the family has been working hard to keep him out of further trouble, help him deal with a drug problem, and get his life back under control. It was a relative living on the mainland who saw the photo and called to ask, “Is that uncle?” The family agreed it was, and confronted him. They quickly got the story out of him. They also set about retrieving the stolen property, which was delivered to me in a black bag, there in the dark, in our driveway in Kaaawa, about 9 p.m. at the end of a long Sunday.

The family, he said, is taking responsibility. They know that with the photos in circulation, there may well be additional consequences. They have told the man that he has to face the problems, and that he can rely on his family for support. I wish them luck.

Meanwhile, the “right” path from here forward isn’t clear to me at this point. We are still literally overwhelmed at getting the bag of stuff returned. We were coming to terms with the loss, and now most of the stolen property is back. That’s a big emotional U-turn and hard to maneuver.

By the way, two people did correctly identify the burglar. But they were in a distinct minority among those who offered up names. It’s something to ponder.

Tags: Crime

28 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kehau // Mar 17, 2014 at 7:12 am

    Aloha Ian- please see my response on your 3/15 post, where you ended the post with the question asking “what is justice?”
    I neglected to add that my response was not only framed from having been a teacher, but also from the perspective of having a child who was doing drugs. I suggested in the 3/15 post that your burglar had probably stolen before, because my son stole money from us- to feed drug habit. I suggested the family was possibly in denial in expressing a desire to keep the burglar/their family member “out of trouble”, because my husband had the same thoughts- which I considered to be an enabler’s thoughts.
    Being a teacher, I’ve always been pretty objective about my kids and their behavior. I wanted to circle the wagons, run up a flag, and get outside help (rehab) for my son – just as I would for a beloved student in need of help- because I knew I wasn’t a trained drug counselor. My husband, needless to say, thought keeping my son out of trouble and handling within the ‘ohana was the way to go. We almost divorced over all of the pilikia. Finally, the husband agreed with me that our son needed help; and that sending him to rehab wasn’t shipping our problems elsewhere and not dealing with them. I’m happy to say son straightened out, is married and the attentive father of two children whom I babysit.
    I was formerly involved with Teen Court, also. I know the work of Drug Court. It’s a model program which many have tried to emulate. IMHO, the best thing for your burglar would be involvement w/them. I hope you filed a police report, but it’s not too late to do so if you haven’t.
    You said most of your things were ret’d- the police involvement may result in add’l things being ret’d. The police involvement may also result in Drug Court involvement, where restorative justice is at the forefront and where there are efforts to help individuals w/drug problems, but done with accountability for those who have victimized others. Good luck to all of you!

  • 2 nanigirl96744 // Mar 17, 2014 at 7:29 am

    Had a family member who did drugs an he had hia friends staying in his room an n our garage that we werent aware of. Someone stole some of my jewellery an $$. No one admitted it but with all that we got stuck with a pile of bills an were nearly homeless. Too many excuses an lie s have I heard fr family members an it’s not their responsibility to try an fix that persons problem. They should have called the cops an turned him in

  • 3 Ian Lind // Mar 17, 2014 at 7:45 am

    Don’t worry. A police report was filed first thing on Saturday. It has a life of its own at this point.

  • 4 t // Mar 17, 2014 at 8:34 am

    You could not have handled this better, Ian. Excellent job. We are so glad you had a rare wonderful ending to this invasion of your home.

    Meanwhile:
    Keeping things “within the family” can build into a ridiculous example of reality-denial and additional humiliation ….. not less. When uncle *refuses* to grow up, he can only learn the hard way.

  • 5 Keith Ishida // Mar 17, 2014 at 8:38 am

    The story is very thought provoking for me. In some ways the burglary of your home is almost a back story (not to you I’m sure). I kept thinking about our island value of ohana, how we take care of our family members, including our extended family, and how taking care also means holding people accountable. You know how growing up in Hawaii a parent, or auntie, or coach would say “I should slap your head” to us when we did something stupid? That’s part of living in our ohana. Now this guy who broke into your house, I would say his ohana will give him more heat that HPD and the entire law enforcement community will ever be able to do. He is going to have to look his ohana in the eye knowing that he has brought shame to the family, a family that has been trying to help him live right. The fact that the family came together, confronted the wayward uncle, and returned your belongings showed the ohana spirit is alive and well in Hawai’i nei. That is something we should be grateful for.

  • 6 Judith // Mar 17, 2014 at 8:47 am

    Very glad you got your things returned! At least this man’s family did that. However, I don’t think they are going to turn him in. It just scares me to think of him, or someone like him, invading your home when one or both of you are there.

  • 7 maunawilimac // Mar 17, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Didn’t one of your other break-ins awhile back follow a somewhat similar path involving the suspect’s family?

  • 8 Lemonade from lemons, so to speak // Mar 17, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Glad your things have been returned and thanks the public service you accomplished in tagging the culprit.

    But the plurality of mistaken identifications should be a humbling reminder for all of us.

    Given the close proximity of these events to a leading criminology scholar, I imagine this can become a notable case study in the field. Plus no IRB’s or other messy admin hassles to overcome in trying to set it up!

  • 9 nalu2jump // Mar 17, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Glad to hear you resolved this issue. I read your blog almost everyday and thru Facebook – looks like many people I know also enjoy your posts! The power of social media handled correctly!

  • 10 t // Mar 17, 2014 at 9:24 am

    Question:
    what should someone do if their “Ohana” spirit fails and a family member keeps doing meth and committing crimes that hurt innocent people?

    note: i will leave my sarcasm out of this. but please provide a realistic answer for the year 2014. thank you.

  • 11 Naeahuau // Mar 17, 2014 at 9:43 am

    I am pleased at the outcome so far. I have been similarly victimized myself, without the satisfaction of getting back any of my belongings or capturing the perpetrator. The gentleman who returned your items, a responsible family member, I can only imagine the shame he felt, and I salute his courage. Had it been one of mine that had committed the crime, I would have had him return the items to you personally while I held him by the scruff of the neck, and had him ask you for forgiveness. But afterward, I would have taken him to the police to have him turn himself in for his crime. The risk of a repeat offense is too high unless there are severe consequences.

  • 12 Jim // Mar 17, 2014 at 9:58 am

    The best outcome would be for the individual to turn himself in to the police and to ask the courts for help by sending him to a drug treatment center. If there are no consequences then what is there to stop him from doing it again. It is great that the media is showing this as this may scare off others if they think a hidden camera will get their picture spread across Hawaii. This is the best crime prevention going.

  • 13 Juicy J // Mar 17, 2014 at 10:04 am

    This asshole needs to go to jail.

  • 14 beentheredonethat // Mar 17, 2014 at 10:33 am

    It is very unfortunate how this drug has affected so much people nd the people who are close to them. I was an enabler for 10yrs. I myself was a victim of theft, an invasion to my home not once but three times. The bottom line is you can do everything to help a person it does absolutely nothing. The individual needs to HELP themselves. All nd all it is a matter of choice. Having taken drug classes I’ve been told it is a disease. I’m sorry…I have a hard time accepting that. It is the kids nd the immediate family who pays. I strongly believe it’s a matter of choice. Tough love!!!

  • 15 Kolea // Mar 17, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Aloha, Ian!

    Glad to see you have gotten most of your stuff back AND that the family member has intervened on behalf of their family member.

    I think part of the inability to figure what is the best way for this to move forward is based upon an accurate assessment of the likely outcomes. Throwing the guy into jail will “get off off the street” (and out of our homes), which is a good thing. But it is very unlikely to get him the drug treatment program and “life-coaching” he needs.

    Unfortunately, the reflexive public instinct to “lock ‘em up” is rarely accompanied by an urge to fund drug counseling and few inmates receive it. So they are warehoused, at great public expense, only to be released years later, still ill-equipped to face life’s problems. So they re-offend.

    This family member suggest the OPPORTUNITY exists for a better resolution. By itself, the family member’s actions might simply have the effect of protecting their stupid relation from jail. I think Jim’s comment is right. The criminal should turn himself in, alongside a supportive family member, with the hope it will be seen as a GENUINE acknowledgement on the part of the offender AND HIS FAMILY–that he needs help.

    I suspect that is out of your hands, unless the offender DOES surrender, in which case you could decide if you want to testify in favor of counseling, rehab, etc. either as a component of detention or as an alternative.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I think we have all benefitted.

  • 16 t // Mar 17, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    i could not agree more, Jim.

    but we all know that some lawyers and crooks and conservatives and nutballs drool over any chance to claim “violation of privacy!!!!!!” yet again.
    yes, it is a weak defense but that little fact never stops them from making a weak defense!

  • 17 Alika // Mar 17, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    Good Job. What I really what to know is… what is the brand name of the security camera equipment that you had installed in your home? The photo quality was very good and very clear. Where did you purchase it.

  • 18 Hector // Mar 17, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    What if you or someone you cared about had been alone in your home at that time Ian? You think the burglar would have been as kind to you as you have been to him?

  • 19 Ian Lind // Mar 17, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Just so there’s no mistake…we made a police report and are waiting for HPD to catch up with events. We haven’t been asked yet whether we have any intention of “being kind” going forward, or what that would even mean.

  • 20 Mac // Mar 17, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    I’m very sorry to hear what you’ve been through. Regardless of how it’s turning out, it’s still a lot to deal with.

    My $0.02
    Being ‘kind’ would be that he be allowed to go through full and proper rehab, along with however many years of probation is justified to make sure he stays off drugs and out of trouble.

    The alternative is jail which I don’t think does anyone any good directly.
    It’s not your job to ensure this happens of course. If his family really cares, they’ll try to get him healthy, not hide it under the rug.

    I like what Kehau had to say above.

  • 21 Mimi Forsyth // Mar 17, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    The fame of your security camera has probably spread far and wide..and may perhaps prvent mischiefs in future.

  • 22 Autumn Rose // Mar 17, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    lots of food for thought…security camera…happy ending for you…over 3,000 views! plus a little TV news fame… yet most of the tipsters told you the WRONG man. Reminded me of misidentified people from security cameras in Boston Marathon bombing… innocent guy committed suicide. “Man misidentified as Boston bomb suspect confirmed dead” http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/man-misidentified-as-boston-bomb-suspect-confirmed-dead-1.1343072

  • 23 Autumn Rose // Mar 17, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    more: “remember the case of Richard Jewell, the Atlanta security guard who was repeatedly cited as a person of interest in the media following the 1996 Olympic Park bombing. Jewell was later found innocent, and won several defamation cases against media outlets that had linked him to the attack…” http://theweek.com/article/index/243006/ny-post-under-fire-for-misidentifying-boston-bombing-suspects

  • 24 Jerry Ferro // Mar 17, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    At this time in our culture ho`oponopono begins.
    ho`omaika`i

  • 25 Allen N. // Mar 18, 2014 at 12:06 am

    Before we turn this misidentification thing into a story about a social media mob, let’s keep in mind that mis-IDing someone is nothing new. Innocent people have been mistakenly targeted for as long as Most Wanted posters have existed. About a dozen years ago, there was the case of a pastor who was mistaken for a child pornographer profiled on the America’s Most Wanted TV show.

  • 26 Random // Mar 18, 2014 at 7:07 am

    Would love to know more about the cameras you’re using – the clarity of the images was certainly a pivotal role in getting this crime solved quickly.

  • 27 t // Mar 18, 2014 at 7:56 am

    America’s Most Wanted and news stations and lawyers can easily admit, to a large audience, that they got the wrong dude.

    In the social-media universe, everyone is the reporter and misinformation is LOST in the galaxy. you *cannot* correct every error in facebook; it is absolutely impossible. this is not a “social media mob”; this is reality. facebook has benefits AND problems that we need to address. and we are still learning the costs of social media.

    to keep it simple: we are encouraging caution with something new. any other approach is begging for disaster.

  • 28 PUEO // Mar 18, 2014 at 7:58 am

    me too! Most of the camera equipment I’ve ever had was useless.

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