Customer stymies heist of booze at Longs

  • KRUZ KAAIHUE-EGDAMIN

A customer at the downtown Hilo Longs Drugs foiled an attempt last month to shoplift spirits by a Kailua-Kona man too young to legally drink alcohol, according to a court document filed by police.

On Sept. 4, a Hilo grand jury returned a three-count indictment against 20-year-old Kruz Kaaihue-Egdamin, charging him with second-degree robbery, public possession of liquor by a minor and fourth-degree theft.

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A court affidavit states that at about 8 p.m. Aug. 1, store manager Neil Peterson saw two men, identified as Kaaihue-Egdamin and 21-year-old Alan Pagan of Kurtistown, taking bottles of liquor from the shelves and stuffing them in their pants and jackets.

As the pair left the alcohol aisle, Kaaihue-Egdamin dropped a bottle of liquor on the floor, breaking it, according to the document.

Peterson reportedly told Kaaihue-Egdamin to put the bottles back on the shelf unless he intended to pay for them, but Kaaihue-Egdamin chose to run directly into Peterson when he could’ve left the aisle unimpeded in the opposite direction, according to the document.

Peterson, 47, reported that the contact forced him into a rolling shelf unit in a center aisle. Peterson reportedly struck his head on a metal brace, causing swelling to his forehead.

According to the document, Kaaihue-Egdamin continued to run toward the store exit, but was tripped by a customer, causing Kaaihue-Egdamin to fall and bottles concealed in his waistband to break. Another customer then detained Kaaihue-Egdamin until police arrived and arrested him. Neither customer was identified in the document.

Another document identifies the allegedly purloined potent potables as a 1.75 liter bottle of Captain Morgan spiced rum, a 750 ml bottle of Smirnoff watermelon-flavored vodka and two 750 ml bottles of Pinnacle whipped cream-flavored vodka. The total retail value, including tax, is $84.97.

After a preliminary hearing Aug. 6 during which Peterson testified, Hilo District Judge Robert Crudele ruled the state didn’t have probable cause to try Kaaihue-Egdamin for robbery and dismissed the charge without prejudice — allowing the state to re-file — but found probable cause exists to charge him with property damage.

The indictment serves as probable cause to try Kaaihue-Egdamin on the three charges, and a bench warrant issued with the indictment set bail at $2,000. He’s free on $250 bail on the property damage charge, a petty misdemeanor.

Second-degree robbery is a Class B felony punishable by 10 years imprisonment upon conviction. Fourth-degree theft and public possession of liquor by a minor are petty misdemeanors.

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Pagan pleaded not guilty Sept. 4 to fourth-degree theft. He’s scheduled for a pretrial conference Oct. 9 in Hilo District Court.

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

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