Busy Month for Bank Robberies on Oahu

Sgt. Kim Buffett
Sgt. Kim Buffett

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Thirty-one days into the new year, and Honolulu police have already responded to half a dozen bank robberies. Oahu is on pace to shatter the number of bank holdups that took place in all of last year.

Yellow police tape. A 'Sorry, We're Closed' note on the door. This type of bank robbery scene has popped up six times on Oahu this year, and it's only January.

"It's been kind of busy, yes," Sgt. Kim Buffett, Crimestoppers, said.

The number of bank holdups in this first month is already half of 2007's total of 12.

"I don't know if it's a concern yet," Buffett said. "We've just seen a rise in it."

That rise comes on the heels of a dramatic decrease. In 2006, there were 41 bank heists.

"Our bank robbers were doing multiples," Buffett said. "I mean, we had one doing six robberies, one doing 14. So it was multiple robberies and it wasn't multiple suspects."

Investigators say they enjoy a high clearance rate for this type of robbery. After all, the crime is committed while surveillance cameras roll.

"Nowadays, with the new digital cameras coming out, the photographs that we're getting are very clear," Buffett said. "And people are helping us by calling in and giving us the information on these people."

As of Thursday morning, only one of the six cases this month was unsolved -- the holdup at American Savings in Kalihi January 23rd. But police say they closed in on the final suspect, 24-year-old Justin Tilton, by Thursday afternoon.

"We had great photos at the bank itself. People called in, identified him," Buffett said. "Detectives have been in contact with his family, photo lineups, everything."

Officers arrested Tilton in Kaneohe.