WAIPAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A 24-year-old homeless woman is in police custody, accused of a Christmas Day break-in at a restaurant in Waipahu. Workers there say burglaries are a problem in their neighborhood, and the costs of repairing the damage and increasing security are tough on small businesses.
It appears the rising price for cigarettes is making some people go to great lengths to get their hands on them.
Police say a woman broke into Leeward Drive-Inn in Waipahu after it closed on Christmas Day, and was caught red-handed by the manager who had unexpectedly returned to pick something up.
"I saw this girl putting the cigarettes in the trash bags," John Ha, manager, said. "She didn't even notice I was watching, looking at her, so I called the police."
He believes the woman may have entered the dining section through a window, climbed to the ceiling and removed one of the panels, and then crawled in the space between the ceiling and the roof to get past the main door and into the kitchen and front counter area.
A security alarm keypad and a portion of the ceiling were damaged, but have since been fixed.
"It costs a lot of money to repair every time they break in," Ha said.
He says it marked the fourth break-in at the restaurant in three years, and wasn't the first time a burglar was foiled.
"He was stuck there until the morning," Ha recalled while pointing to the ceiling. "When the first cook came in, he noticed someone was yelling for help. We had to call the police to actually get him down."
Leeward Drive-Inn isn't the only business in the complex that has been victimized. Workers at Thelma's Restaurant say someone once busted through their glass door and stole their cash register.
"I saw the door is broken already," Tessie Duley, Thelma's Restaurant employee who discovered the break-in, said. "Then I call our boss. Then he said you gotta call 911."
"They're breaking the windows," Ha said. "I don't know, it's just they're so desperate to get anything."