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Robbery suspect appears in court

A 39-year-old man suspected of robbing a 49-year-old female visitor from Massachusetts made his initial appearance today in South Hilo District Court.

Hawaii County police charged Benny Rapoza Jr. on Wednesday with second-degree robbery and first-degree unauthorizedentry into a motor vehicle. His bail was set at $10,000. A judge increased his bail Thursday to $10,025 and ordered him toappear for a preliminary hearing Monday.

Police said an unknown man allegedly entered the woman’s rental car, which was parked on the Panaewa zoo entrance road,and began removing her belongings.

The woman told police the man tried to retreat to his own vehicle when she confronted him. He then put his arm around herneck, dragged her roughly 15 feet and threw her to the ground.

Police arrested Rapoza on Tuesday night at a home in Puna.

Anyone with additional information about this investigation is asked to call Detective Grant Todd at 961-2381.

Anonymous tipsters may call CrimeStoppers at 961-8300.

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