City & County of Honolulu

Police arrest 2
in robbery spree

Officers say that the men probably were
crystal meth users desperate for cash

By Rod Antone

Honolulu police said two men who allegedly were responsible for more than a dozen armed robberies on Oahu in the last two months now face federal charges with maximum prison terms of up to 20 years.

Police said Ted Esteban and Jay Young Kwon allegedly robbed about 13 establishments between the two of them since late November.

Detectives said the two men were not working together, but were equally active, with Esteban allegedly robbing six stores and Kwon allegedly hitting seven.

"Basically we believe they were crystal meth users, probably desperate for fast cash," said Capt. Alan Arita. "I'm sure they weren't robbing these places so they could go Christmas shopping."

So far, Kwon has only been charged with robbing the Stoplight Relaxation massage parlor Nov. 20. However, he is also being investigated for six other robberies, including Mahalo Relaxation on Nov. 29, the Black Pearl of Tahiti store on Dec. 6, the Ala Moana Comics Arcade on Dec. 15, the Pearl City Relaxation Center on Dec. 18, Jewelry and Watch Collection Inc. on Dec. 20 and Happy Pawn last Saturday.

Arita said four of those robberies -- the two jewelry stores, the pawnshop and the comics store -- are being charged federally under the Hobbs Act, which can be applied whenever interstate commerce is hindered by way of robbery or extortion.

The Hobbs Act applies because they allegedly stole from stores that sell goods from out of state. The massage parlor robberies will be handled by the city prosecutor's office.

Kwon is being held in lieu of $130,000 bail. Arita said police were relieved to finally catch Kwon on Sunday in Pearl City, especially since he appeared to show no signs of slowing down.

"He knew we were looking for him, and he still continued to rob places," Arita said. "Usually that's not the case.

"Catching this guy was like our Christmas present."

Police arrested Esteban in Waipahu on Dec. 12, and he is now in federal custody where he is being held without bail. Arita said Esteban's alleged robbery list includes a Reynolds Recycling trailer on Nov. 30, a Baskin-Robbins store on Dec. 4, the Video Warehouse on Dec. 5, a Domino's Pizza outlet on Dec. 8 and the Aloha Island minimart on Dec. 9.

Arita said Esteban has been charged federally with all six robberies under the Hobbs Act and also faces several federal prohibited-firearms charges because he was found in possession of a sawed-off shotgun and a sawed-off rifle.

Police are also still looking for a male suspect who allegedly robbed the Video Warehouse with Esteban on Dec. 5.

Police believe the second suspect was armed with a shotgun and demanded car keys from one of the customers in the store.

Anyone with information about the second suspect is asked to call Detective Taro Nakamura at 529-3382. Anonymous calls also can be made to CrimeStoppers at 955-8300 or *CRIME on a cellular phone.

Honolulu Police Department

E-mail to City Desk


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