Panaewa Robbery Suspect Charged

The Hawai`i Police Department has charged a 39-year-old Hilo man in connection with a robbery reported to have occurred Tuesday afternoon in Panaewa.

A 49-year-old female visitor from Massachusetts reported witnessing an unknown male suspect enter her rental vehicle, parked on the Panaewa zoo entrance road, without permission and began removing her belongings from within. She confronted the male suspect who tried to run back to his vehicle parked nearby when she tried to stop the male suspect.

According to the woman, the suspect placed his arm around her neck and dragged her approximately 15 feet and threw to the ground causing pain to her neck.

Police arrested Benny Rapoza, Jr. last night at a residence in a lower Puna subdivision. He was charged Wednesday, just after 4 p.m.. and continues to be held at the Hilo cellblock in lieu of $10,000 bail pending his initial court appearance in South Hilo District Court Thursday.

Rapoza is charged with 2nd-degree robbery and 1st-degree unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle.

Police ask anyone with additional information about this investigation to call Detective Grant Todd at (808) 961-2381.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to a $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

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