Puna man charged in ice factory break-in
A 22-year-old Puna man on supervised release for a strong-arm robbery charge has been arrested and charged by police for allegedly vandalizing and burglarizing Alii Ice Co. on Banyan Drive in Hilo.
Clinton Ronald Souza of Volcano was charged on Thursday night with burglary, burglary during a civil defense emergency, five counts of unauthorized entry to a motor vehicle, two counts of criminal property damage and theft.
Burglary during a civil defense emergency is a Class A felony punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment.
Souza being held at the Hilo police cellblock in lieu of $152,000 bail, pending his initial appearance Monday in Hilo District Court.
In a written statement, Police Chief Harry Kubojiri said: “The Hawaii Police Department is committed to investigate all reported criminal activity affecting storm victims and to identify and arrest the responsible persons.”
Alii Ice owner Jon Bockrath said he received a call Thursday night from county Prosecutor Mitch Roth to inform him of the arrest.
“I’m grateful to the Police Department, and I’m grateful to the community at large,” he said.
Officers responded to a 7:43 a.m. report Wednesday of burglary and vandalism at the company’s ice plant. Officers discovered the business and several vehicles had been broken into and damaged.
The suspect allegedly broke the office door, went inside and removed some business information.
He then allegedly entered a secured parking area and damaged four vehicles, breaking several windows, an ignition system and damaging the engine of one of the vehicles.
Officers previously responded to an unrelated report of a car break-in at about 2:30 a.m. the same morning on Banyan Drive. In that case, Souza was located in the area and arrested.
Bockrath, who had closed down the ice house and laid off his 13 employees, said Friday he’s in the process of reopening the facility.
“I’ve been in there all day; we’re processing ice right now for deliveries (Saturday),” he said. “There’s a little bit of a problem. My truck fleet is still about half out of commission. We’ll be a little behind on production and deliveries, but we are back online and we hope to be organizing and get things rolling.”
Bockrath had vowed not to reopen the plant until a suspect was incarcerated for the break-in.
“Sometimes, it takes drastic measures to accomplish a goal, and the goal was to get this fellow incarcerated. He’s in jail now, and hopefully our legal system will follow up,” he said.
Bockrath said he’s not sure he’ll be able to open his Banyan Drive retail operation to customers today due to the difficulty of notifying employees on Friday’s Admission Day holiday.
With an estimated 3,800 electrical customers still without power as of Friday due to Tropical Storm Iselle, the production and availability of ice has taken on added importance, especially in storm-ravaged Puna.
“We will be starting to get some product out to the local stores. I am going to concentrate on lower Puna,” Bockrath said.
Civil Defense spokesman Ilihia Gionson said Friday that Alii Ice has donated more than a ton of ice to Civil Defense to help storm victims.
“Alii Ice was great donating to us, and they’ve been working with a lot of other organizations, as well,” Gionson said.
He said right now, the agency is using ice from Oahu and Maui.
“We have the capability of going out and bringing that over,” he said. “We want to allow the local suppliers to get back on their feet and supply their retail outlets so they can have their ice available for folks.”
According to court records, Souza missed an arraignment Thursday morning in Hilo Circuit Court on a strong-arm robbery charge.
It was later discovered he was already in custody. He’s to be arraigned on the robbery charge Thursday at 1 p.m. before Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara.
The state Department of Public Safety website indicates Souza was released from Hawaii Community Correctional Center on supervised release on Aug. 4.
Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune- herald.com.
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