Protecting visitors from crime

Local News

Several brazen crimes have been reported within the past month, all targeting tourists.

On Wednesday, surveillance video caught a man on the run after he reportedly stole a Japanese visitor’s purse in Kailua.

Police later arrested and charged Tarek Gopaul, 45, with theft in the fourth degree.

Last Thursday, there were two separate robbery incidents also involving visitors in Kailua, and last month there was a purse-snatching that turned violent near Kualoa Ranch.

“About 90 percent of the cases you receive, visitors take all their valuables to the beach, cash, credit cards, passports, everything, jewelry, very expensive jewelry,” said Jessica Lani Rich, president of the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii (VASH). “We always ask the question, ‘Did they leave anything back at the hotel safe?’ and in the majority of cases, they say no.”

VASH offers support services for 1,600 to 2,000 visitors a year in distress. Rich offers the following advice: be aware of your surroundings, don’t travel alone and don’t bring all your belongings with you.

KHON2 reached out to the Honolulu prosecutor’s office to find out how often victims who live out of state or out of the country actually follow up with their cases.

A spokesperson says that the office provides airfare and per diem that is reimbursed by the state.

“A lot of visitors we see, many of them don’t want to prosecute. Some of them do of course, but the main reason they tell us, it was too painful to experience. They don’t want to relive the crime again,” Rich said.

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