Suspected arsonists caught on camera but still at large

Sgt. Kim Buffett
Sgt. Kim Buffett
Joseph Sumibcay
Joseph Sumibcay

By Teri Okita – bio | email

KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu police are on the hunt for a group of arsonists.

Five young males are suspected of setting fires at half-a-dozen locations in Kalihi, and police fear the damage could get much worse, if they're not stopped.

Surveillance video shows the five males starting a dumpster fire under the cloak of darkness. Police believe they're responsible for fires at six separate Kalihi locations in recent weeks.

"They look young," says Sgt. Kim Buffett of Honolulu Crimestoppers. "We don't know exactly their ages or descriptions. I mean, if somebody's going to recognize them, they're going to know their demeanor on the video 'cause it's not a clear shot of the actual five but you can see and if somebody knows them, they're going to recognize them."

The fires were set near businesses and schools from September 18th through 24th, and all but one of them happened in the hours between 1:00 and 3:30 a.m. The one at Kalakaua middle school happened on a Saturday. The worst was at Farrington High on September 21st - when the suspects set five fires on campus. "These suspects, we were basically playing chase with them, one fire after another," says Buffett.

Authorities say it could have been much worse. "We're just lucky that it hasn't caught the whole building on fire; although, some of the buildings were singed by fire," Buffett adds.

The owner of the building that houses D&D Office Furniture just painted over his singed siding. He says the wood-based structure would have gone up in flames, if a Good Samaritan hadn't pulled the burning dumpster away from his building.

Next door, at Puuhale Market, Joseph Sumibcay arrived at work to find a note from police. It said arsonists had hit the dumpster behind his store. "When I came to work early in the morning around 6:30, I saw the bin was all dark, all black."

The bin has been replaced, but police want to make sure they catch these arsonists before they strike again. If you know anything, you're asked to call Honolulu Crimestoppers at 955-8300.

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