MILILANI (KHNL) - Residents fumigate their homes to protect them from pests. But they're going to have to do more to protect their belongings.
Police say this month alone, seven homes in Mililani that were tented for pest control treatment were burglarized.
Ala Papalagi and his crew from Central Fumigation are putting the finishing touches on their latest job. They post danger signs and make sure the tent is secure, as Mililani suffers a rash of burglaries involving tented homes.
"I feel bad because a lot of customers pay a lot to get their house tented, and then to have people like that come in and break in and take things, you know," Papalagi said.
He says while homeowners are away, criminals gain access to their possessions by cutting through the thick tarps.
"We had to patch it up like this," Papalagi explained. "What they do is they cut like a T shape."
Investigators believe the intruders strap on protective masks before breaking in.
"We use Vikane and tear gas. We're talking serious stuff," Papalagi said. "I would say mainly desperate people would do this."
Mililani postal carrier David Goya hears about the burglaries while on his delivery route. So when it came time to fumigate his own house,
"Well, I stayed in the front yard with my dogs," he said while laughing. "I camped out."
He says he had a close call.
"The night I had my house tented, someone actually stopped in front of my house," Goya said. "And when I stood up to see what was happening, they drove off."
Papalagi says a few bad insects are giving honest exterminators a bad name.
"You know, it always come down to us like, 'Oh, you guys did it,'" he said. "I mean, I would think the same too, you know."
We're told the cases involve different fumigation companies.