[Hpn] Squatters found with computers and cell phones in ware house

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Sat, 7 Aug 2004 08:40:54 -0400


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August 7, 2004

Warehouse squatters found with computers, cell phones
By David Waite
Advertiser Staff Writer

Police are trying to determine whether any of the cell phones, computers,
phone cards or bicycles recovered from a Kaka'ako warehouse during an
eviction Thursday had been reported stolen.

Workers install fencing material over the windows of a warehouse building at
South and Queen streets that police raided Thursday. They found a surprising
number of computers, bicycles and other items.
Bruce Asato . The Honolulu Advertiser
Police Lt. Jerry Inouye said officers were "taken by surprise" at the amount
of personal property they found in the abandoned warehouse owned by Japanese
billionaire Gensiro Kawamoto.
Inouye said police had fielded a number of reports in recent months from
area residents who complained about seeing what appeared to be homeless
people breaking into the warehouse and other buildings on the property
bounded by Queen, South and Keawe streets.
"Our officers had gone by there a couple of times in the past, but the
people who were squatting there would lock themselves in," Inouye said.
"Without the owner's permission, our officers could not force entry into the
buildings."
After determining who owned the buildings, Kawamoto was contacted in Japan
and met with his representatives in Hawai'i and police at the warehouse site
at about 9 a.m. Thursday, Inouye said.
When police forced their way in, they found five or six people in one of the
buildings "with many of the comforts of home," Inouye said.
"Mr. Kawamoto is kind of a soft-hearted guy, and he really didn't want to
press charges against any of them," Inouye said.
However, a 40-year-old man found hiding in a crawl space was arrested for
trespassing. Two other men, ages 47 and 50, were arrested on outstanding
warrants for contempt of court.
It is possible the people found inside the building could be charged with ot
her crimes, if police can establish that the goods in the warehouse were
stolen and tie the theft or possession with those people. But "it could be
difficult," Inouye said. "Just because you find them there next to the
property, that doesn't necessarily put them in possession of it."
Police recovered a sizable number of long-distance telephone calling cards
still attached to their cardboard backing, suggesting they were stolen from
a retailer, Inouye said.
They believe the warehouse had running water and electricity until about a
month ago.
"I guess when you have that much money and that many properties, you might
not be aware that one of them is abandoned and still has water and power,"
Inouye said.
He said police asked Kawamoto to have his workers secure the building and
make periodic checks to ensure no one tries to move back in.
"Our officers will make several checks a day over the next several weeks,
too, to make sure no one tries to move back in," Inouye said.
John Pierre "Pete" Manaut, Kawamoto's lawyer, said his client had been aware
of trespassing concerns, but had no knowledge anything illegal might being
taking place at the site. He said Kawamoto wanted to give the people found
in the buildings a chance to move out and take their belongings with them.
Kawamoto bought most of the undeveloped block in 1989. Early last year, he
said he hoped to advance his plan for a 20-story tower with 230 large
one-bedroom units, either for sale or rent to a middle-income market.
He became a symbol of Hawai'i's Japanese real estate boom in the 1980s, when
he paid cash for houses while driving around neighborhoods in a white
limousine. He paid $42.5 million for the former Portlock estate of Henry
Kaiser, considered at the time a record real estate purchase price. Then
Kawamoto walked away when he refused to pay the $1 million-per-year
leasehold fee to the Bishop Estate.

Reach David Waite at dwaite@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8090.

 COPYRIGHT 2004 The Honolulu Advertiser, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
Use of this site indicates your agreement to the Terms of Service (updated
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