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Puna officer feted for role in catching thieves preying on hikers

For his determined efforts and collaborative approach tracking down criminal suspects who had assaulted hikers in Keaau, Puna Community Policing Officer Eddie Cardines was recognized by the Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaii as Officer of the Month for July during a ceremony at the Pahoa Police Station last week.

Cardines, a 14-year veteran of the department, was honored for his outstanding problem solving skills and his ability to coordinate a community-based response to numerous robberies, unauthorized entry into motor vehicles and auto thefts in the Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision.

On June 20, a robbery occurred on the Shipman Trailhead in Keaau during which the suspect jumped out of the brush and used a bat/pipe to strike the victim and steal their belongings.

Three weeks later, a robbery occurred on the Shipman Trailhead where the suspect jumped out of the brush and pepper sprayed the victim, stole their bags, which contained their vehicle keys, ran to the parking lot and stole their vehicle.

The crimes took place on property owned by multiple entities, including Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision, W.H. Shipman Ltd., and the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Cardines organized a joint agency HPD-DLNR reconnaissance mission of the trail areas and learned the robbery suspects were possibly camping along the coast. He also conducted a meeting with community members from HPP and W.H. Shipman Ltd., updating them on the investigation and discussing how the community and police could work together to reduce crime in the area.

On July 22, Cardines and the task force he created hit the trails in the early morning darkness to locate the suspects. Upon arriving at the campsite, they found a male and female who were both placed under arrest for various criminal offenses. Later that morning, the male robbery suspect was located and placed under arrest.

After conferring with the prosecutors office, detectives charged one of the male suspects with two counts of first-degree robbery, three counts of third-degree assault, second-degree theft, third-degree theft, two counts of unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle and unauthorized possession of personal confidential information. His bail was set at $30,000.

The other male suspect was charged with UCPV and as a habitual property crime offender. His bail was set at $20,000.

Cardines used his problem solving skills and brought law enforcement and community members to the table to address their concerns.

The task force accomplished its mission by arresting criminals that were plaguing lower Puna and other parts of the island. He exemplifies the community policing mission statement that states, “The police will form partnerships with the community in order to create a safe and secure environment.”

All officers selected for Officer of the Month are eligible to be selected as the Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaii Officer of the Year.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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