Police widen search for suspects in fatal Pearl City fire

Francis Infante
Francis Infante
Margie Garza
Margie Garza

PEARL CITY (HawaiiNewsNow) - Francis Infante couldn't believe his eyes. The morning after a deadly blaze destroyed his neighbor's Pearl City home Friday and killed 97-year-old Betty Hagihara, he confronted and then scared off a man who was trying to break into the burned out home.

"I'm yelling, 'Get out!' And then he came out. I said, 'What the hell you doing in there?' He said he was getting a couple of things," Infante said.

Honolulu police are trying to determine if a burglar using a blowtorch to break a lock sparked the blaze. Residents on Hoomalolo Street said the house has been broken into before, and model planes were stolen.

Now cops are looking for leads in other unsolved burglaries in Pearl City, like what happened to Kevin Izumi.

"We've been having a series of break-ins into my place," he said. "They were coming in to steal fish that I keep, tropical fish. And they also took some fishing gear and diving gear."

Izumi's surveillance cameras captured the crimes, but the crooks are still on the loose. They knew they were being videotaped, so they hid their faces.

Margie Garza lives across the street from Hagihara's home. Her house has been broken into three times, the last time was in October.

"They stole my daughter-in-law's Gibson. and it was a classic guitar," she said.

A check of HPD's crime map shows 13 burglaries in Pearl City so far this year. Several are within a mile or two of the Hagihara home.

From his garage, resident Randy Yoshimura paused from polishing his truck to point out the homes of neighbors who've recently been victimized by thieves.

"How many times this guy was burglarized. Her house just recently. And this house, and the house up the street," he said.

"From what the police say, this area is so accessible to the freeways, that's why they hit here, they hit Palisades. And all jealousies, so really easy to get in. They burglarize, they hit the freeway, and they're gone," Infante said.

"We can't let them control us. We have to trust," Garza said.

Residents on Hoomalolo are so troubled by the fatal fire and the rash of recent break-ins, they're starting to write down license plate numbers of unfamiliar vehicles that go down their street.  They said it's no way to live.

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