Apartment resident describes confrontation with burglar who dies in fall


A Honolulu woman says she woke up Thursday morning and was startled by a man — dressed head to toe in black– inside her high-rise apartment.

Police sources tell us the burglar tried to make his escape the same way he got in — through a kitchen window using a rope ladder — but instead, he fell hundreds of feet to his death.

It happened just after 5 a.m. at a building on University Avenue.

The burglar has been identified as 37-year-old Richard Hong. Sources also tell us he lived in the same building on a higher floor.

In an interview you’ll only see on KHON2, we spoke to the victim, who wishes to remain anonymous.

She said she’s been burglarized in the past, but this is the first time she’s found an actual burglar in her home.

The victim says she didn’t hear the suspect coming in, but when she woke up to use the bathroom, “I came into the living room and there was a person in my apartment. He was completely dressed in black.”

She rushed back into her bedroom to grab her hiking stick and come back to confront him.

But when she returned, he was gone. “I went into the kitchen and I realized he came through the kitchen window,” with the rope ladder hanging above it.

“It looked scary, and I was in shock, because I saw him and I still have that figure in front of me. That will probably stay with me for a few days.”

Police blocked off a portion of the street below to investigate what they say is an unattended death.

The victim added that, last month, she noticed her laptop was missing. “The next morning, I wanted to look at my emails and my computer was gone. I said to myself that’s strange. I was looking all over the place and I realized that someone was in my apartment and taken my computer.”

She said her door was never tampered with, but the victim says she would have never thought the suspect would use the window, especially living so high above ground.

“Of course not, that’s in the movies,” she said. “I think this is very rare. I really don’t think this should scare anybody away.”

The victim says nothing was taken from the apartment Thursday morning.

The Honolulu Medical Examiner’s office has not released an autopsy report on Hong at this time.

Though unusual, this is not the first time a balcony burglary has taken place. In June 2003, a man was caught burglarizing an apartment complex on Kununu street. Residents believe the suspect jumped on car hoods to get to third floor balconies, then climbed up the side of the building.

In one incident, a resident was pistol-whipped by the robber.

Police eventually arrested the suspect.

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