(KHNL) - Car headlights light up this dark section of the H-1 freeway. "It's spooky. You can't see in front of you especially when there's no other traffic late at night, that's when it gets really dangerous"...More >>
(KHNL) -- Going to great lengths for a little cash. A suspected copper thief is accused of causing so much destruction in East Oahu Friday, a Hazardous Materials team is called out.
It's not every day a theft case triggers a Hazmat response. But it's not every day a suspected copper thief knocks down a utility pole, breaks open a transformer, and exposes himself and five police officers to possible chemical contamination.
"I don't see how people are that hard up for money," Keone MacArthur, witness who called 911, said. "I mean, that's a lot of work."
After the all-clear, Alden Kaupiko is taken away in a patrol car. City parks worker Keone MacArthur says he saw the suspect in the area Thursday.
"He was climbing up telephone poles in the pouring rain," he said. "I mean, we didn't, I didn't know what he was doing at the time, you know."
Police believe the 47-year-old was stealing copper wire from utility poles. When MacArthur saw him Friday morning, he called 911.
"I looked at all the poles coming down," he said. "I just saw all the wires hanging straight down, all like fresh cuts. And then I saw the insulation all on the ground. I'm like, this guy was very busy last night."
Officers arrest Kaupiko on suspicion of criminal property damage and criminal tampering.
A tow truck removes his pickup from the scene. The back is filled with tools.
Police call this a crime of opportunity because the area is so isolated. Officers say they do patrol the area periodically, but they rely on the public's help.
"Our concern is that if we didn't arrest this individual, that he would've taken, possibly taken chemical contamination home to his family and friends, as well as anybody else he was in contact with," Capt. Robert Green, Honolulu Police Department, said.
Records indicate Kaupiko has prior convictions for theft, assault and terroristic threatening. He has not been charged in this case.