HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's tough to start up a business in these uncertain economic times. It's even tougher when the entire inventory from the business is stolen. A Kailua man is on the hunt for his one-of-a-kind apparel that thieves lifted when they stole his van. The crime happened in a busy place where many of us park.
Ramon Vrielink would like to be working on this Labor Day - fine-tuning his new, active wear clothing line. But last weekend, thieves stole a majority of his merchandise, along with his white, 2000 Dodge Grand Caravan.
"Oh, yeah, I definitely feel violated," says Vrielink.
It happened in the Iwilei Costco parking lot - in broad daylight on a busy Saturday afternoon. The Vrielinks say they were gone no more than half an hour when their ride, a new surfboard, and thousands of dollars worth of hand-pressed, dry-fit shirts and trucker hats vanished. The merchandise says "Salty Wear" or "Salty Girl".
"They're really identifiable," says Vrielink. "They're basically island-style photography. A lot of them are canoe-based with paddles, parts of Koa canoes, flowers and foliage."
The Honolulu Police Department's last annual report shows the Iwilei area near Costco has its fair share of crime: nine robberies, 27 burglaries, 183 larcenies, and 17 auto thefts in 2009. The Vrielinks say they locked the doors, put the windows up, and never noticed anything suspicious. There are no witnesses or security camera footage.
The couple posted messages on Craigslist and the Star-Advertiser and even canvassed the stadium flea market - hoping to recover some of the inventory. So far, nothing has turned up.
"It's the things you can't get back," explains Lianne Vrielink. "All the hard time and the work and the effort that went into all the products and my husband's work."
"Your first emotion is: you're super ticked off and then, right now, I'm just kind of resolved to having to kind of recover my losses and just kind of keep on working," says Ramon Vrielink.
Police phoned Sunday to say they may have found the couple's van under the H-1 freeway at Palama, but they'll have to wait until after the holiday to check on its condition.
The Vrielinks are hoping the coconut wireless can help and that somebody in the community has seen this unique merchandise. As always, call HPD, if you know anything.