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Social media tips help man find, capture barn burglary suspect

  • HAWAII COUNTY POLICE
    Christopher Wright
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A Hawaii island man used social media to track down a stolen all-terrain vehicle and captured the alleged thief after chasing him onto a lava field, police said.

The suspect, Christopher Allen Wright, 52, was being held on $129,000 bail. He was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday after he was charged Tuesday with theft, criminal property damage, inattention to driving, leaving the scene of an accident, two counts of possessing confidential personal information, and numerous drug charges.

Police said the case began Sunday afternoon, when a 38-year-old man reported a burglary at a ranch off Henry Street in Kailua-Kona.

He told officers that a barn had been broken into and that two all-terrain vehicles, a large machete and other items had been stolen.

At 6:30 p.m. Sunday, one of the ATVs and some of the stolen items were found on Konalani Street in the Queen Liliuokalani subdivision. 

The victim posted information about the burglary on social media and received tips that an ATV was seen being loaded onto a trailer attached to a silver Chevrolet Trailblazer at the Kona Crossroads Shopping Center off Henry Street.

At 8:30 p.m. Sunday, the victim reported that he was following a silver sport utility vehicle that was pulling a trailer holding the second stolen ATV. He honked at the SUV and tried to wave the driver over to stop, police said.

The driver of the SUV pulled to the side of the road, jumped out while the SUV was still moving and ran into an old lava field off Highway 190. The unoccupied SUV crossed the centerline and crashed into a guard rail near the Maui scenic lookout, police said.

The victim chased the suspect onto the lava field, caught him and detained him until police arrived.

Police arrived and arrested the suspect, a homeless man who gets his mail in Honokaa. Officers also recovered the second stolen ATV and other stolen items from the trailer.

Detectives obtained a search warrant on the SUV and found a machete, additional items stolen from the barn, methamphetamine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia, police said.

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