WAILUKU — Bail was increased to $21,000 for a man arrested early Wednesday while allegedly trying to steal a tire from a parked rental vehicle near Kahului Airport, amid concerns about people taking advantage of the COVID-19 emergency to commit crimes in the area.
Dean Line Jr., 38, of Kahului was charged with attempted first-degree theft during a civil defense emergency, second-degree promoting of a dangerous drug and resisting arrest.
Police arrested him after he was seen kneeling next to the rear passenger tire of a vehicle parked on the southern shoulder of the Haleakala Highway extension near Lelepio Place at 1:05 a.m. Wednesday, according to an affidavit filed in court to support the charges. Line had an impact wrench and was attempting to steal the tire, the affidavit said.
After being told he was under arrest, Line resisted and tried to run from officers, who had to use force to arrest him, police reported.
The affidavit noted that Line was in violation of Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino’s public health emergency rules by failing to stay at home except for essential activities or business.
During Line’s initial appearance Thursday in Wailuku District Court, Deputy Prosecutor Byron Fujieda said Line “has taken advantage of the stay-at-home orders and the COVID-19 emergency that the community is currently facing, trying to take advantage of the businesses that are affected by this pandemic.”
An Avis rental car manager reported that the rim and tire that Line was trying to steal were valued at $475, according to police.
Police also reported finding a glass pipe containing methamphetamine in Line’s pocket, as well as a pill bottle containing a plastic bag with 5.42 grams of crystal methamphetamine.
Line was arrested after police officers organized a special operation in response to reports of property damage and parts being stolen from rental cars stored in areas around the airport because of the drop in tourists during the pandemic, Police Chief Tivoli Faaumu said.
Maui District Airport Manager Marvin Moniz said there were sporadic crimes involving parked rental cars before, but officials had expected an increase during the emergency.
“Now, it’s a lot more tempting because you see thousands of cars sitting there,” Moniz said. “On top of hard times, we anticipated to see some of that taking place.”
He said Faaumu has supported efforts to curb crime by having police officers increase patrols in areas, including a field near the former Kmart, where rental cars are parked. Airport police also have done more patrols of the areas, Moniz said.
In court Thursday, Fujieda said Line was located in an area of fields along the Haleakala Highway extension leading to the heliport.
Line is on probation after being sentenced in June for unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle and third-degree promoting of a dangerous drug, Fujieda said.
He said Line also has four contempt-of-court convictions, “which shows that he allegedly does not follow court orders.”
“Allegedly, he does not follow community orders as well,” Fujieda said.
He said that if convicted, Line could face a mandatory minimum prison term of three years and four months as a repeat offender.
Line asked to be released on supervision, with Deputy Public Defender Marina Lowy-Gerstmar saying he has been employed for almost two years as a laborer and is married with three children.
“I honestly had no idea about not being able to go out at night,” Line said in court.
Judge Kirstin Hamman set bail at $21,000.
“According to the alleged facts, he is taking advantage of the situation by allegedly stealing vehicle parts from these rental cars that have to be located in that area because of the pandemic,” she said. “The community at this time is more vulnerable than it ever has been. Even though it is a property crime, I do see it as a danger to the community.”
Line was ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs and to stay away from the Haleakala Highway extension between Hana Highway and the Kahului Airport heliport.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at [email protected]