Pearlridge Car Thief Identified Amid Concerns Over Mall Safety

Virginia Gomez
Virginia Gomez
Jackie Bell
Jackie Bell
Thomas Loewe
Thomas Loewe

AIEA  (KHNL) --  There are new security concerns a day after police kill a suspected car thief after he tries to mow down officers.

And details emerged Thursday night about the man involved in a tense encounter at Pearlridge Shopping Center Wednesday afternoon.

He is identified as 47-year-old Thomas Joseph Loewe.  He has a long criminal record dating back thirty years.  In 1978, he was found guilty of misdemeanor theft, and then over the next 16 years, nine more misdemeanor convictions ranging from harassment and disorderly conduct to family abuse.

KHNL News 8's records check shows in 1994 he was first convicted of a felony.  Between then and 2005 another eight convictions.  Police describe him as a career criminal.

At Pearlridge mall Thursday evening, things were pretty much back to normal.  It was open and people were shopping, but many now wonder how safe are their cars while they're strolling inside the mall.

The Pearlridge parking structure was quiet a day after police killed Thomas Loewe, a suspected car thief for trying to run over officers.

"Only yesterday we were scared," said Virginia Gomez, a longtime mall employee. "But today is like nothing happened."

Gomez has worked at Pearlridge for 18 years.  She was here when shots rang out.

"Oh, I was scared," she said.  "We scared to go downstairs, too, because we don't know where the gun coming from because when I come over here, I saw plenty policemen."

The dead suspect had 18 prior convictions, including two felony convictions for auto theft.

Mall officials say they take car theft and other security issues very seriously, and police say there is a growing problem among malls on this island.

"We look at the data. There's a series that's going off," said Honolulu Police Chief Boisse Correa.  "And they're investigating all these malls. Theft in vehicle, auto theft, that type of operation."

Shoppers say this makes them think twice next time they come to the mall.

"Now I'm afraid of where I leave my car now," said Jackie Bell, a mall shopper and a mother of a six-year-old daughter.  "But, I don't know, things happen."

Bell says this is a wakeup call for her and her family, that bad things can and do happen even in Hawaii.

"It's a natural concern," she said. "Just always having fear of having her in the wrong place, wrong time."

Mall officials say they're cooperating on two separate investigations: one looking at attempted murder charges against the dead suspect, and another looking at the police department's use of force.

Police don't know how long the investigations will take.