Police are 12-for-12
in solving this year’s
bank heists

The cross-deputization of detectives
as federal agents is credited

Honolulu police have solved all 12 bank robberies this year, which detectives believe is the department's first perfect record.

Usually there are at least a few unsolved cases in each year, detectives said. And they say they are crossing their fingers that they're not jinxing themselves by celebrating too soon.

"We're batting a hundred this year, knock on wood," said robbery Lt. Ray Quon. "We're 12-for-12. ... That's the kind of record you want to have."

Oahu bank robberies

Year | Robberies | Unsolved
2003 36 8
2004* 12 0

* As of yesterday


The last bank robbery case police solved this year led them to close out two other cases from prior years.

Leyen Gradle pleaded guilty in federal court on Aug. 18 for the robbery of the Waipahu branch of Central Pacific Bank on June 29, but as part of a plea agreement, Gradle also admitted to robbing the Waipahu City Bank on July 29, 2003, and the main branch of Bank of Hawaii on March 11, 2002.

The big difference, according to police, is that two years ago the city allowed detectives to be cross-deputized as federal agents, creating the Honolulu Violent Incident Crime Task Force so that they could investigate bank robberies, hijackings and other local crimes that violate federal laws, instead of handing them over to the FBI.

Quon said detectives now have more options, allowing them to take the case to either federal or state prosecutors, depending on the crime.

They also allow local investigators who know their beat to pursue cases while having access to federal resources.

"We just make a request with the FBI and boom, it's done," Quon said. "Right now, I'm looking for someone that's been indicted that's currently in the Philippines.

"How would I do that without the FBI's help? And their database is incredible. It's helped us a lot."

Another factor is that better technology has helped provide for better bank surveillance photos, meaning the public gets a better view of the suspect and who to keep an eye out for.

"We've definitely been having some good tips because of the kind of photos that we make available to the media," said CrimeStoppers Detective Letha DeCaires. "Technology has made a difference along with having cross-deputized officers.

"You have officers who work directly with patrol (officers) and have instant access to FBI resources and the U.S. Attorney's Office for immediate charges. It's a winning combination."

With this year's bank robberies out of the way, Quon and his seven robbery detectives can concentrate on unsolved robberies from other years. The 2003 robberies that police are concentrating on now include:

» Kaimuki branch of First Hawaiian Bank at 3599 Waialae Ave. on Feb. 26.

» Aiea branch of American Savings Bank at 99-115 Aiea Heights Drive on March 13.

» Mililani Town Center branch of American Savings Bank at 95-1249 Meheula Parkway on July 7.

» Waipahu branch of Bank of Hawaii at 98-712 Farrington Highway on July 24.

» Airport branch of Hawaii National Bank at 540 Lagoon Drive on Aug. 1.

» Waipahu branch of Central Pacific Bank at 94-210 Pupukahi St. on Aug. 1. Police believe the same suspect from this robbery also robbed the Waipahu Bank of Hawaii on July 24, 2003.

» Kahala branch of First Hawaiian Bank at 1348 Hunakai St. on Sept. 26.

» Pearlridge branch of Bank of Hawaii at 98-211 Pali Momi St. on Oct. 30.

Quon is particularly interested in solving the March 2003 robbery of the Aiea American Savings Bank because investigators believe that case is related to another case on Dec. 21, 2001, involving the robbery of the Windward Community Federal Credit Union in Kailua. In both cases the suspects were masked and vaulted over the bank counter, armed with either handguns or shotguns.

In both cases the suspects also escaped in stolen white vans, which police would later find abandoned nearby.

"Yeah, that would be the case to solve," Quon said. "But we're looking at solving everything we can get our hands on."


Unsolved bank robberies
from 2003

mugshot Feb. 26
Kaimuki First Hawaiian Bank, male, mid 30s, dark complexion, 6', 180 pounds, medium build

mugshot March 13
Aiea American Savings Bank, male, early to mid 20s, 5'10", 230 pounds, muscular build

mugshot July 7
Mililani American Savings Bank, male, late 20s, 5'5", 160 pounds, heavy build

mugshot July 24
Waipahu Bank of Hawaii male, 30s, 5'11", 200 pounds, medium build

mugshot Aug. 1
Airport Hawaii National Bank, male, late 40s, 5'7", heavy build

mugshot Aug. 1
Waipahu Central Pacific Bank, male, 30s, 5'11", 200 pounds, medium build

mugshot Sept. 26
Kahala First Hawaiian Bank, male, late 20s, about 6', 150 pounds., slim build

mugshot Oct. 30
Pearlridge Bank of Hawaii, male, 30s, 5'6", slim build, long dark hair, with tail



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