Alleged bike thief faces enhanced charges

  • KEOLA WERNER-KEALOHA

A 27-year-old Hilo man accused of stealing a pair of patrol bicycles from the Hilo Community Policing substation at Mooheau Park bus terminal in downtown Hilo made his initial court appearance Tuesday.

Hilo District Judge Harry Freitas ordered Keola Sonny Werner-Kealoha to appear at 2 p.m. June 27 for a preliminary hearing. Werner-Kealoha is charged with first-degree theft, second-degree theft, second-degree burglary, and burglary of a building during an emergency period.

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Prosecutors are seeking enhanced sentencing for the first-degree theft and emergency burglary charges, which make both Class B felonies punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.

“We’ve been charging all burglaries in the Puna and Hilo districts with enhanced charges under the emergency proclamation,” said Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth. “Police resources and officers have been spread thin since the Kilauea eruption. Hilo officers have had to work in Puna, and officers are working 12-hour shifts.”

The emergency proclamation declared May 3 due to the ongoing eruption of Kilauea covers the entire island of Hawaii.

Police said a bicycle was found Thursday in Hilo Bay, and responding officers learned it was one of two used by the Hilo Community Policing officers and kept at the substation. Police said the bicycles are valued at $1,200 each. Both bicycles were missing from the substation.

The department issued a media release Thursday seeking the missing bike. The release said Werner-Kealoha was wanted for questioning. He was arrested later that evening on outstanding warrants and suspicion of theft, and later charged.

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Werner-Kealoha, who was sentenced March 15 to four years probation on a second-degree forgery conviction, remains in custody at Hawaii Community Correctional Center in lieu of $42,000 bail.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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