Windward Oahu families are fed up with increasing crime, including burglaries, car break-ins and stolen mail. The problem was the hot topic at a town hall meeting in Kaneohe on Tuesday night.
Kahaluu resident Eric Merkel carefully monitors his mail. Four homes on his street have had letters stolen in the last two weeks. A couple of days ago he also saw a driver rummaging through mailboxes on nearby Waihee Road.
"I've seen someone driving up on the driver's side across the road into oncoming traffic, stop, pull letters out of the mailbox, look through them, then put them back in, then drive on to another mailbox," said Merkel.
The neighborhood faced a similar situation about three years ago. That's when long-time resident Jacob Ferreira Jr. bought a secured mailbox and helped start a community watch program.
"Visibility. They see something that lets you know that we are watching. Less chance of having anything happen," said Ferreira.
State Senator Jill Tokuda invited Honolulu police to a town hall meeting to help combat the problem. Her Kaneohe home was burglarized a few years ago.
"Within a half an hour period of time, our home was hit," said Tokuda (D-Kaneohe, Kailua, Enchanted Lake). "While you can replace the money and you can replace the technology, it's those things like those family jewelry, those pieces that you can never replace."
Officers said they've noticed a rise in burglaries, vehicle break-ins and thefts in the last few months. They've made some arrests, but still help from residents to crack down on criminals.
"We look for people who can be witnesses for us. So people who can be outside, be the eyes and ears, and call the police, call 911 when they see something suspicious," said Lt. Tasman McKee of the Honolulu Police Department.
For more information on forming a neighborhood security watch, call HPD's Community Affairs Section at 529-3351.