HPD may reconvene task
force to fight auto thefts

The original program ended due
to strains on police resources

By Rod Antone

A Honolulu Police Department special task force that disbanded last year may reform this summer to combat auto thieves again, police officials said.

The Auto Theft and Commercial Crimes Task force, or ATACC, was responsible for 69 arrests from January to June 2001, including several suspects involved in high-profile cases.

HPD created ATACC in 2001 in response to a jump in overall property crime rates -- specifically auto theft. According to HPD's 2000 annual report, auto thefts jumped from 3,997 cases in 1999 to 5,214 cases in 2000.

HPD officials confirmed that the task force may reform. However details about the reformation were not available and it is not known whether the task force will go by the same name.

ATACC was headed by Detective Bruce Swann and consisted of 12 detectives and patrol officers from different parts of the island with various areas of expertise such as robbery or narcotics. Police officials said while the original auto theft task force yielded results, it was disbanded because it drew upon too much manpower and resources from districts.

A new version of the task force may include multiple teams based out of individual districts, HPD officials said.

Perhaps the most notable ATACC investigations led to a shoot-out between police and car-thief suspects on the H-2 Freeway in April 2001. During that confrontation, police killed 27-year-old Levi Esperas after Esperas shot two officers.

ATACC officials said Esperas had been involved in an auto theft ring that stole as many as 13 cars weeks before the H-2 incident.

E-mail to City Desk


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