HPD Warns Public Not to Chase Thieves

Josh Longbottom happy to have his cell phone back.
Josh Longbottom happy to have his cell phone back.
Capt. Frank Fujii, H.P.D.
Capt. Frank Fujii, H.P.D.

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- People are still talking about the man who just wouldn't let a pair of suspected thieves get away. The victim got into his car, chased the suspects, and re-claimed his property. But now, Honolulu police are warning the public about the dangers of getting too involved.

Police say when most suspects flee the scene of a crime, they'll do just about anything to avoid getting caught. Monday's civilian car chase turned out okay. But H.P.D. says the people involved were lucky.

A self-described geek is reunited with his stolen, high-tech phone, after a car chase with the suspected thieves. Police warn -- do not try this at home.

"So many things could go wrong," Capt. Frank Fujii, H.P.D. spokesperson, said. "The victims can never tell whether or not the suspects may be armed, if they're high on drugs, you know, if they're going to do harm to them."

Authorities say two men were traveling around in a stolen van, breaking into cars in East Oahu. When Josh Longbottom became a victim, he jumped into his damaged Saab and gave chase.

"I never lost sight of the van," Longbottom said Monday. "I pulled out and, by the time I got down to Sandy's, I was right behind them. I pulled up next to them with my hazards on, honking my horn. I was like 'pull over.'"

"We, at the police department, have very stringent policies regarding pursuits," Fujii said. "And the reason for that is you can jeopardize innocent people."

The van crashed into a rental car. The suspects ran, but were immediately captured. Police say, luckily, no one was seriously hurt.

"We always ask citizens to get involved," Fujii said. "But we ask them to limit their involvement by getting us good descriptions, license numbers, so we can do the follow-up."

Longbottom admitted that chasing the suspects may not have been the smartest move.

"I saw this fancy, my fancy phone with the mount, the GPS all gone," he said. "And it crushed me."

Police arrested Christopher Figueroa and David Naki for investigation of second-degree theft. Officers also booked Naki on suspicion of driving a stolen vehicle. The men are locked up at H.P.D.'s main cellblock.