Caught by Craigslist: Newlyweds reunited with stolen wedding photos

Caught by Craigslist: Newlyweds reunited with stolen wedding photos
© Erich Chen Photography
© Erich Chen Photography
© Erich Chen Photography
© Erich Chen Photography

KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Police are looking for two Kaua'i teens who are accused of stealing $20,000 dollars worth of equipment from a wedding photographer.

18 year-old Aliki Peleketi, of Anahola, and 19-year-old Ocean Haire, of Kapa'a, have each been charged with one count of first-degree theft.

The two are accused of stealing professional-grade photography equipment, along with a laptop computer from a Kauai beach rental house in February.

In addition to the cameras and lenses that were taken, several memory cards filled with images from a recent wedding on Maui were also stolen.

Hawaii New Now spoke with the wedding photographer and bride this past February, when they reached out to us for help, in hopes the thieves would return their belongings no questions asked.

"Normally they say when you get camera equipment and stuff stolen 90% of the time nobody gets it back," explained the good Samaritan, who helped reunite the pair with the stolen items.

The Kaua'i man doesn't want to be identified, but says he was contacted by Peleketi and Haire through Craigslist after he posted a truck for sale.

"They were expecting to give me 20-thousand dollars worth of camera equipment for a 35-hundred dollar truck."

It didn't add up so the Kauai man looked into it and sure enough...

"The exact same camera equipment as these guys telling me he wants to trade was on Craigslist showing that it was stolen," explained the Good Samaritan, who says he immediately contacted the authorities and they set up a sting operation.

"He had the guys come over to his place and then he checked out the equipment and when he verified that the serial numbers matched ours -- the guys got caught right then and there," described Erich Chen, the wedding photographer.

"I looked at the camera equipment and when I noticed that it was the equipment that they were looking for, there was a sign that the policeman was looking for and when they saw the sign they moved in," explained the Good Samaritan.

Chen says he couldn't wait to share the good news.

"The images from a wedding are some of the most precious images a couple can have so to be able to get that to them -- to be able to recover that for them is such a huge sigh of relief for all of us.  Just incredible, an incredible feeling," described Chen, who got almost all of his equipment back in good condition.

The only people more thrilled than Chen are newlyweds Kristen and Junior Manegdeg.

None of their wedding pictures were lost in the process.

Kristen says it was worth the wait.

"I was beyond excited I couldn't believe that it was actually our time to look at all of our photos -- it was definitely a very sweet moment for all of us," said Manegdeg.

As for Peleketi and Haire, they were booked back in February and released on bond.

New arrest warrants were issued at the end of May, once prosecutors reviewed the case and charged them.

Peleketi is believed to still be on Kaua'i, but officials say Haire is currently on the mainland.

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