WAIMANALO, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Campers in Waimanalo said they feel violated after thieves raided their tents over the weekend.
They said police couldn't immediately get to the scene Sunday morning around 4:00 a.m. because of a locked gate that's meant to keep the campers safe. The gate at Waimanalo Bay closes every night at 7:45 p.m. and doesn't reopen until 6:00 a.m.
"We've just not really felt as safe as we used to in Waimanalo," said Kimo Carvalho.
Carvalho is a resident of Waimanalo and the Director of Community Relations at the state's oldest and largest homeless service provider, the Institute for Human Services (IHS).
He said he and a group of his friends were camping at the nation's recently named number one beach, Waimanalo Bay, over the weekend when they became victims to thieves. They didn't actually see who took their belongings. But Carvalho and his friends said they noticed several homeless people in the area scouting their belongings before the crime.
"These individuals who had been there for quite some time, who we've always felt and believed were homeless, were really eyeing us out, scanning what kind of stuff we had. And after their belongings were stolen, we noticed they were escaping into these routes that went into Sherwood areas, into the trees," Carvalho said.
He said four backpacks with valuables worth of three thousand dollars were taken and one of the bags was in a zipped up tent just inches away from his friend's face while she was sleeping.
What made matters worse, he said, was that police couldn't get onto the property because the gate was locked. Carvalho said police told them they called the caretaker but no one answered.
The caretakers said they didn't get any missed calls from police and all emergency personnel have the code to the lock. Plus, they said the police and fire departments have the equipment needed to break the lock in case of emergencies.
A spokesman for the city said the perhaps the gate wasn't cut because it wasn't a life-or-death situation.
Carvalho said this isn't the first time he or his friends have fallen victims to thieves. Still, he said the crime hits close to home but it just fuels his passion to help the homeless get off of the streets and into shelter.
"Knowing that my stuff got stolen by the people that I'm trying to help and really motivate into housing or shelter, yeah that does gets personal, you get upset. But that doesn't change my job. It doesn't prevent me from wanting to help people. I'm always here and I'm always gonna show the best compassion I possibly can to really help those in need. At the same time our community needs to develop a response system to address these types of crimes and people who are not making a choice to come off the streets," he said.