Amara Prasithrathsint had just finished shopping at the Lao Asian Market on North Pauahi Street in Chinatown Wednesday afternoon. She stood on the sidewalk just outside the store, counting the change before putting it in her wallet, when a young man riding by on a bicycle suddenly grabbed the wallet and rode away.
"He somewhat was kind of very professional because he did it very carefully and quickly," Prasithrathsint said.
She didn't know she was being watched. Surveillance video from the store shows the man on the bike slowly riding past Prasithrathsint as she counts her change. Thirty seconds later, he returns and grabs the wallet. Prasithrathsint screams.
Sam Say was down the block at his store, M.P. Lei Shop.
"Another customer is yelling, 'The guy, he grabbed somebody's purse. Can you chase him?' So I chase him all the way to Beretania Street, and he turn around, he look and me, then he's smiling at me," said Say. The man then disappeared in traffic.
It's a scene that merchants and others in Chinatown say is happening every day.
"I hate this because it happens in Chinatown so much lately," he said.
"Purse snatching is worse in the past four months," said Chu Lan Schubert Kwock of the Chinatown Business Community Association.
According to Honolulu Police statistics, there were eight thefts in the past week in Chinatown. There were more than 20 in the past two weeks.
"These are young people on their bikes, and they just cut your purse, they just snatch," said Kwock. "I mean, if you leave something on the bench, attend to your phone, it's gone."
Kwock said the rise in purse snatchings has come even after HPD increased its presence in the area.
Anyone with information is asked to call police. Meanwhile, Prasithrathsint said she's learned her lesson.
"Actually, I should not show the wallet on the street like this, right?" she said. "But I think that this is a safe city.