Jan 29, 2016

Hawaii Five-O

On the dawn of my 6th day of an East Maui adventure I'd accepted that my beloved Bill Foote paddleboard was lost forever as the result of:
  • a greedy thief, 
  • my own stupidity for not locking it down on the roof rack for the hour I was swimming, 
  • a greedy thief
True, I'd grown complacent after having survived hippy zombies and hammocks and eerie cemeteries on my trek around the island. But it SUCKS to feel like a victim. It sucks even more when one starts to play the mind game of "I should have..., could have..., WHY DIDN'T I...?"   So, when that kind of inner dialogue starts I find it easier to just move on and accept that mean people inhabit this same stretch of earth, therefore I should do my best to cancel out that blackness with what delights and revitalizes me. Of course, that's usually a happy paddle on my (now missing) paddleboard so I was back to accepting the loss, until .....

At 8:30 AM my friend Joan informs me via Facebook: "Your board is in Paia and posted on Craigslist yesterday. What scumbags." 

Sure enough, there it was, complete with cell number naming "Dillon" as contact.  I send "Dillon" a message: "Still have SUP for sale?"

And immediately he responds:
"Yessssss!" (apparently Dillon was in Slytherin House while at Hogwarts)

Encouraged, I race to the Hana divison of Maui Police Department (MPD) to see what law enforcement recommends in situations where stolen goods are offered for sale. There I'm interviewed by a handsome (really, it bears mentioning) Hawaiian officer who offers many observations about how hard it is to recover something as easily concealed as a surf or paddle board when every other vehicle on the island has a board rack. To his credit, Officer Gorgeous gave me his cell number so that I could text photos of the board and takes his own screenshots of my Facebook posts from Nov '14 after I bought it. He advises me: 
If the seller contacts you again, try to stall him to give you time so Wailuku police* have time to set up a meeting. 

And right then, another message arrives from Dillon:
"I'm in Paia, can you meet me here?!" Officer EasyOnTheEyes gives me raised eyebrows and a shoulder shrug.

Okey dokey - I'm primed for SUP search and rescue now! I wave goodbye to Hana and its handsome peace officer, and respond to "Dillon" who I've now added to contacts as "SUP Thief":
I'm at work, on the West Side (a lie, obviouslyand can't get to Paia before noon & have to borrow a truck from a friend, could be a while." (all lies, please forgive me).

To which Sup Thief responds: 
Ok, great!" I figure I must be dealing with the happiest thief ever. He uses exclamation marks with EVERY text.

Here's where we are to date:
Board stolen from Hamoa Bay in Hana
Posted on CraigsList for sale in Paia
Hana PD recommends heading straight to Wailuku PD to set up apprehension of SUP Thief

It's now 9:30 AM and I'm on the road out of Hana to Paia. Have you ever driven this road? It's crazy curvy, right? Imagine it in a Honda minivan, with a drippy egg salad sandwich in one hand and a twitchy SUP Thief buzzing the phone with "How long before you're in Paia?! texts every time there's a stray cell signal. Oh, and you have to pee really, really badly. Got that image? That was my drive. There was a certain urgency to the experience.

I arrive Wailuku Police Departement at 11:15 AM and tell the story all over again: Board stolen in Hana/on CraigsList in Paia/Contacted seller who wants to meet ... and in the middle of all this comes new text from SUP Thief:
"Can meet you at Wailuku Coffee Company!" ** 

The Wailuku officers (I'll call them A, B and C because that's what their last names started with) became quite energized by this information. They know the location because it's across the street from a municipal parking lot and they all enjoy coffee there. They develop a plan that involves me parking a block away from the coffee shop (in attempt to ensure the 4-wheeled crime scene that is Hobo isn't recognized), walking up to the SUP Thief and engaging him in conversation about the board, verifying that it's indeed mine, signalling Officer A when verification occurs and then stepping aside while the MPD confronts the dude. Great plan, right?

I text SUP Thief:
"Be there in 10. Who should I ask for?"

SUP Thief:
"I'll b out front ... standing ... black shirt jeans!...."

It's a "go". I drive, park, walk, and approach a man who fits the description, introducing myself as the CraigsList responder. There's no board in sight. I ask where it was and SUP Thief says he parked down the street, behind some buildings and I could check out the board if I walked there with him. Uhhhhh.... this wasn't covered in the ABC's plan. I tel SUP Thief that I'm uncomfortable leaving a public area to walk behind some buildings with a man I don't know. 

I'd just finished saying this when my phone rings and I see Officer A's name on caller ID. I say the first thing that came to mind:
"Hi, honey! I'm here with the man I told you about who has a board for sale but he wants me to walk with him behind some buildings to see it. What do you think I should do?"

On the other end I can hear Officer A begin to tell his Superintendent there may be a change in plans. I hold the phone away from my face and say to SUP Thief:
"I want to buy this board and I have cash on hand but I'm not going behind any buildings with you. I'll save this parking space for you (and I step into a just-vacated spot) Why don't you bring the board back here for me to check out."

Meanwhile, Officer A, still on the phone, is asking me to describe what SUP Thief looks like and I'm doing all I can to keep from shouting back: "Just step around the corner and see for yourself"! when SUP Thief begins walking away from me, down the street.

I hang up on Officer A.

SUP Thief doesn't come back with the board.

I spent the next 15 minutes doing several things while the cops are presumably doing their own pursuit, questioning, investigating. I ask the coffee shop workers if they knew who SUP Thief was - though I called him Dillon. Then, I compose a suitably PO'd text to him about how he wasted my day since I'd had to drive over from the fictitious West Side and how'd I might STILL be interested even though I wasn't happy about being dumped.

Officer A got over being hung up on and calls me back, instructing me to meet the rest of the ABCs behind the First Hawaiian Bank building across the street from the coffee shop. There I am introduced to the Superintendent and we debrief. No one but me got a good look at SUP Thief even though there were four officers within shouting distance. There was some commiseration, more shoulder shrugs, and the suggestion that I wait a day or two before having a friend contact SUP Thief, using a different number, to try for a better result.

And then, right on cue, another message from the dude:
OK...at coffee store Kehei...Azeka mauka plaza. Have board in parking lot outside next to Peggy Sues. Can you call me! ...

The ABC's inform me that's out of their jurisdiction and that I'd need to enlist the services of Kihei PD in order to set up another meet, verify and nab activity at that location. I thank them for their time, tell them I'll head to Kihei and return to my car where I ponder the psychology of a SUP Thief who uses exclamation marks in every text message. 

So I call him. And I say:
"Tell me about this board. How long have you had it. Why are you selling it." 
His responses had to have sounded lame, even to himself.

I follow up with:
"You've got to know that this board was stolen from me yesterday. There's a police report filed with photos and serial number on record. The police have your phone number, your CraigsList account info, photos of you and your truck (I made up that last part) It's only a matter of time before they find you. Why don't you just turn the board over to me and I'll call the cops off."

SUP Thief tells me he'll call me back.

I immediately send him the following text message:
Please consider what the board is worth vs a felony arrest. Why don't you take it to Maui Ocean Center and leave it on the grass parking strip at the corner closest to Carl's JR. No cops will be around, you can drop it, leave and the theft report will go away.

No response.

I drive to Maui Ocean Center and wait. It's 1:45 PM. I use the time to catch up on emails and Facebook. I post the board "Stolen - Reward Offered" on CraigsList, incorporating the SUP Thief's own posting with my images, showing his contact data, stating there's a police report filed with current action to apprehend. I call Greg and tell him it was a good try but the board is gone for good. After waiting an hour, I begin driving toward West Maui and the next stage of my island exploration. 

At 3:05 PM I receive the following from SUP Thief:
Board is in Kihei...at beach parking lot...it's up against a fence...on the grass...I didn't steal it!"

It takes me another 45 minutes to find the right beach park and sure enough, there against a rock wall rests my tricky, dinged-up, fantastically fun Bill Foote board. I deconstruct my carrying harness in order to have sufficient straps to secure it to the roof racks because the original straps were cut in the theft. And I drive to Safeway to buy a bottle of champagne. 

*Why Wailuku PD instead of Hana PD (where the board was stolen). Because Hana is the backside of the island (and what a beautiful backside it is). Any criminal activity that occurs outside of Hana has to be handled by other divisions because of the travel logistics.

**Wailuku Coffee Company is hands down the STUPIDEST place for criminal activity to occur as it's directly across the street from a bank and next door to a pawn shop - both with surveillance cameras in place at streetside.


  1. Well played and brilliantly written. We'll hire you next time we need a PI.

  2. Great post. Sounds like the Keystone Cops. Glad you were able to use your noggin to retrieve the board.