Pahoa man accused of looting several homes during lava-related evacuation

Local News

A Pahoa man has been charged with the burglaries of four homes in the Leilani Estates subdivision.

The neighborhood was under a mandatory evacuation during Kilauea Volcano’s latest eruption, and covered by an emergency proclamation declared by the Mayor’s Office on May 3.

On Wednesday, May 9, one of the victims, a 66-year old man, told police that he and an acquaintance arrived at his Moku Street home to retrieve personal belongings when he saw a man leaving his home office.

The victim said the suspect had keys that were taken from his office.

The victim and his acquaintance drove the suspect, Alexandru Stingu-Dragomir, 29, to the police checkpoint at Highway 130 and Leilani Avenue, where he was arrested without incident.

Investigators later determined that Stingu-Dragomir had entered two other homes on the victim’s property, as well as a neighboring home.

On Thursday, May 10, Stingu-Dragomir was charged with three counts of burglary of a dwelling, each being a Class “A” felony, and one count of burglary of a building, a Class “B” felony, which occurred during an emergency period.

He remains in the Hilo cellblock, unable to post $175,000 bail. He is scheduled to appear in court on Friday.

It’s not clear how many homes inside Leilani Estates have been burglarized since residents left.

KHON2 spoke with one evacuee who returned to her home this weekend, only to find someone else had already been there.

Someone kicked in the front door and smashed windows of Rochelle Berryman’s house and ransacked the place.

Berryman said the thief took a keyboard piano along with some fine silverware that had been in the family, but more items could be missing.

She told us she was worried this would happen when she was forced to leave, and had this message for looters: “How would they like it if it happened to them? If they had to leave their home and then come back to it all messed up? I hope they take care if it, do whatever the law says to do.”

Section 708-817 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes provides that if a person commits the offense of burglary of a dwelling during an emergency period proclaimed by the governor or mayor pursuant to chapter 127A and within the area covered by the emergency period, the offender is subject to a Class “A” felony, punishable by up to 20 years of incarceration. The Class “B” felony charge is punishable by up to 10 years of incarceration.

Anyone who may have information about these incidents is asked to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Detective William Brown of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at (808) 961-2384 or William.Brown@hawaiicounty.gov.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

Alexandru Stingu-Dragomir

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