Purse snatchers prowling Maui
Police want the public to be wary after five incidents, including an attempted assault
Maui police say women have been the target of two actual and two attempted purse snatchings and an attempted sex assault since July.
Police released the information Tuesday in response to an e-mail circulating on Maui warning women of a rash of crimes targeting them, said Lt. Wallace Tom, Maui Police Department spokesman.
"We're not trying to downplay the incidents," Tom said. "We still want women to be aware of their surroundings."
The e-mail warns women of males lurking in bushes waiting to pounce on female joggers. The Police Department says there was one such incident on July 2.
A female was taking a late-afternoon jog off Hana Highway in the Kuau area when a male grabbed her and knocked her to the ground, said Capt. Milton Matsuoka, Criminal Investigation Division commander. A witness intervened, stopping the attack, and assisted in apprehending the suspect, he said.
Matsuoka said the victim suffered scrapes and bruises.
The department has recommended giving the witness an award for his actions.
The first purse snatching case happened July 11 in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Kahului. Matsuoka said police have arrested two adult male suspects and have identified a third but have yet to arrest him.
The next two cases -- purse snatching attempts -- happened Aug. 7 in the Costco parking lot in Kahului. They have not identified any suspects.
And on the following day, a woman reported her purse was snatched at Kahului Harbor near a cruise ship that had docked. Police arrested a juvenile male and an adult female.
Tom said the e-mail mentions another purse snatching in the Kmart parking lot in Kahului, but the department has not received a report of such an incident.
Matsuoka said his wife received the e-mail Monday and called him to find out whether the information it contained were true. He said the wives of his detectives also received the e-mail.
In addition to being aware of their surroundings, police caution women that using personal music devices such as MP3 players could impair their awareness and make them more vulnerable to attack.