An alarming crime is happening in neighborhoods all around Oahu.
Strangers are knocking on doors, pretending they’re from the neighborhood security watch and eager to help.
The latest incident happened in the Wilhelmina Rise area, and luckily, the resident didn’t fall for it.
“I peeked out the window in that direction so I could see who might be approaching the door,” said Dee Ann Rigle Torres.
She got suspicious right away when a man who seemed a little too friendly approached her door.
“He seemed very anxious to put me at ease so that I would open the door, ‘Don’t worry, it’s okay,’ you know,” she said.
She said he identified himself as someone from the neighborhood security watch and even pulled out some sort of badge, but Torres told him to come back another time and he left in a hurry. She later told her family and realized that man was not who he said he was.
A neighborhood security watch is normally pretty effective in cutting down crime, so KHON2 spoke with police and one of the largest neighborhood watch teams on Oahu and learned how to spot an impersonator.
“We do not canvass door to door. We just don’t think it’s good practice,” said Aaron Aalto from the Wilhelmina Rise Neighborhood Security Watch. “We don’t think that people should get accustomed to the idea of people knocking on their doors and presenting themselves.”
It probably doesn’t seem very neighborly, but Aalto says if you have any doubts or any suspicions at all about a person on your property, the best thing to do is call the police right away.
“One of the things that the police tell us all the time is that they would prefer to get a call that turns out to be nothing but somebody is acting out on a suspicion. They don’t feel right about something. The police don’t mind that at all,” Aalto said.
HPD says neighborhood security watches are effective as being the eyes and the ears for the police department.
“They get to see things that happen there everyday all the time, so them telling us what’s going on helps us better solve problems,” said HPD Sgt. Deric Valoroso.
There are more than a hundred neighborhood watch teams on Oahu and they first meet with HPD officers to learn non-confrontational techniques on dealing with suspicious behavior.
Sgt. Valoroso says if the teams do visit residents in their homes, it would be to recruit them to join, but they would probably arrive in a group, usually wearing clearly marked shirts saying Citizens Patrol, and they would never ask for personal information beyond a phone number and email address.
Oahu residents who want to organize a neighborhood security watch are asked to contact HPD’s community policing team in their community:
- Honolulu: 529-3695
- Wahiawa: 621-8442
- Pearl City: 456-8482
- Kailua-Kaneohe: 247-0748
- Kalihi: 845-1220
- Waikiki: 529-3098
- East Honolulu: 529-3339
- Waianae: 692-4250
- Kapolei: 692-4249