By TOM CALLIS
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Police arrested a 37-year-old man Wednesday in connection with two attempted robberies in Hilo.
Honomu resident Kris Villasista was arrested at about 3:20 p.m. for allegedly being in possession of a vehicle police believe was used by the would-be robber.
The Suzuki Sidekick was reported to have been used by a man who demanded cash from employees at a gas station and recycling center earlier on Wednesday.
In both attempts, he left empty handed.
Villasista was arrested in Honomu for allegedly being in “unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle.”
Police have not identified him as the attempted robber, and the investigation is ongoing.
According to police, a man driving a Sidekick without license plates tried to rob a 76 gas station at the intersections of Kaumana Drive and Ainako Avenue at around 11:45 a.m.
After employees refused to give him any cash, he left in the sport utility vehicle and headed to the Atlas Recycling Center at Waianuenue Avenue and Kinoole Street where he also demanded cash.
A cashier, who didn’t want to be identified, said the man drove in quickly from Waianuenue Avenue. She said she could tell something strange was going on when he pulled into the mauka side of the business, where customers usually don’t park.
The cashier said the man was wearing an orange fluorescent hoodie, gloves and his face was covered in black, possibly with a mask.
She said he approached another employee and demanded cash.
He appeared to be armed with a gun, but he never pointed it at anyone, the cashier said. The weapon appeared to be wooden and was possibly fake, she said.
He asked for cash, and when the other employee said no, he asked again with an awkward laugh and then left, the cashier said.
The woman said she has worked there for over a year and has never seen a robbery attempt.
At the time, she said it was unclear if the man was sincere about trying to rob the place.
“We didn’t think he was trying to rob us,” she said.
“To me, if he was trying to rob us, he would have made a fuss about it.”
Employees at the gas station said they were not allowed to comment on the attempted robbery.
Email Tom Callis at firstname.lastname@example.org.