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Honolulu prosecutor to pursue felony charges to deter repeat retail thieves

Steve Alm.jpg
Casey Harlow
/
HPR
Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm holds a press conference Monday, November 15, 2021. Alm announced his office will not pursue a third trial against Christopher Deedy for a 2011 fatal shooting.

The Honolulu Department of the Prosecuting Attorney says it is working with the police department and retailers to identify and charge those who repeatedly steal from businesses. It hopes to stem what it calls “the tide of retail theft in Honolulu.”

Individual thefts may only qualify for misdemeanor charges.

But people who repeatedly steal may face felony charges under the state’s Habitual Property Crime Statute. The statute has been law since 2004.

It defines a habitual property crime perpetrator as someone who has been tried and convicted on a combination of misdemeanors or felonies on separate incidents within 10 years.

The prosecutor's office recently charged Lawrence Smalls on two counts of felony Habitual Property Crime. The prosecutor alleged that Smalls stole alcohol from the Cheesecake Factory in Waikiki on two separate occasions in October. According to a release, he has 161 prior convictions.

Smalls appeared in First Circuit Court on Thursday and pleaded not guilty to both counts.

If convicted on the Habitual Property Crime statute, Smalls could face a minimum of one year, and up to 5 years in prison.

“Honolulu’s retailers deserve action when it comes to those who repeatedly steal from their businesses,” Honolulu Prosecutor Steve Alm said in a statement. “By working with HPD and local retailers to identify those who repeatedly steal and charge them with felonies, we are focusing on getting the worst offenders off our streets."

“Habitual thieves don’t just hurt the retailers they steal from, but the public suffers from increased prices as a result of these thefts. We are working with HPD and the retailers on a number of other cases involving habitual theft and I look forward to holding these criminals accountable.”

Jason Ubay is a news editor at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Send your story ideas to him at jubay@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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