Chinatown businesses say vandalism has risen during lockdown

Chinatown businesses say vandalism has risen during lockdown

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Businesses in the downtown and Chinatown areas of Honolulu are slowly starting to reopen -- but are finding an increase in vandalism since they’ve been gone.

“Last night I got a phone call from HPD saying that the windows had been shattered,” said Aloha Graphics president Mark Merriam.

“Definitely nothing that we needed," he said. "It’s a waste of time and energy and a whole lot of money.”

His shop is slowly getting back up to speed after being closed for eight weeks due to the shutdown orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“They said they already had an idea of who it probably was,” Merriam said after talking to police. “(The suspect) had picked up one of the metal Board of Water Supply covers and thrown it into a couple of different windows.”

Honolulu Police said they arrested 32-year-old Andrew Kanae, with no local address, for criminal property damage after a witness saw him do just that to another window at the abandoned Club Hubba Hubba, about two blocks down Hotel Street from Aloha Graphics.

HPD’s crime mapping site reported just two burglaries in the last month. But vandalism -- like broken windows -- has increased during the shutdown, according to merchants. Several businesses reported shattered windows in the last few nights alone.

“There seems to be kind of a rash of that and they’ve caught a couple of people that have been the primary suspects. But there’s been a lot of broken windows,” said Don Murphy, owner of Murphy’s Bar and Grill, a downtown area mainstay for decades.

Up the street, Mojo Barbershop is getting to reopen as Vintage Barbershop Hawaii. Barber and manager Aaron Fune has been cleaning and disinfecting, but is considering one more thing.

“I’m probably going to board my windows up a little bit more to prevent anything happening from my shop right now,” said Fune.

Merriam and Fune said they both have noticed an increased number of new homeless people in the area.

“We’ve been having problems with outsiders coming into the community to be out here in Chinatown -- and a few of them are worse than others,” said Merriam.

Marriam believes that some of them may be recently released inmates who have nowhere else to go. “I’m sure. And they’re being released without services, without any kind of safety net, they’re being released without -- maybe they don’t even have an I.D. card.”

Merchants remain optimistic that things will return to normal.

“Once we get reopened there’s more activity, and that seems to clear out the people that don’t belong down here,” said Murphy.

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