Amid surge in bold thefts, community rallies around store clerk at center of viral video

A video is spreading across social media, showing a clerk at a Kailua supermarket trying to stop a potential shoplifter.
Published: Dec. 16, 2021 at 9:55 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 17, 2021 at 1:03 PM HST
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KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A video is spreading across social media that shows a clerk at a Kailua supermarket trying to stop a potential shoplifter.

The video was posted after there were concerns that the clerk would be fired for doing what she did.

However, the incident also highlights an increasing number of bold thieves that stores are tired of dealing with.

Shoppers and employees at the Times Supermarket in Kailua knew something was wrong when there was a loud disturbance in the wine aisle — with swearing, yelling and glass bottles breaking.

The video shows a man apparently trying to steal expensive bottles of wine when an employee confronted him Wednesday afternoon.

“I was heading to the checkout line and that’s when it broke out. And so I turned the camera on,” said Daniela Stolfi, a regular shopper at the store.

Stolfi said she was longtime employee Gina Kekahuna.

She was holding on to the man’s backpack, even as he continued to yell profanities as her and other workers. But Kekahuna refuses to let him shoplift.

“It was rattling. It was definitely intense,” said Stolfi. “And I give her credit. I give them all credit. These women just kicked into action.”

In the video, Kekahuna is finally able to take the bag away from the man, who is still yelling as they try to get him to leave. But he left behind a mess of broken glass and spilled wine.

“I wasn’t surprised at the person stealing something. We see that every day in the stores,” said Retail Merchants of Hawaii President Tina Yamaki.

She said this type of crime is increasing as thieves become more brazen and are usually let go with a warning.

In this case, Honolulu police said the man was given a warning for trespassing. Sources said he’s done this before.

“When we go to court, these guys, the criminals usually tell us, ‘We’ll see you in your store in a couple of hours.’ And sure enough, in a couple of hours, they’re back in the stores stealing again,” said Yamaki.

Many people online praised Kekahuna. But many also remember what happened to Summer Tapasa after she stopped a would-be thief at the Aiea Best Buy in December 2019.

Tapasa was fired.

Kekahuna feared the same fate, so she chose not to speak. However, Times Supermarket put out a social media post, saying Kekahuna will continue to work for the company.

Stolfi started a GoFundMe page for Kekahuna when it was believed she would be suspended or fired. Now that it doesn’t appear to be the case, Stolfi said the money raised will still go to Kekahuna for whatever she may need.

“We thought she deserved a vacation and her own glass of wine and all of that,” said Stolfi.

“Aunty Gina ended that spree that day, and I’m hoping that she put the fear into him that he may never try that again.”

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