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The North Shore Has Seen An Uptick In Armed Robberies And Criminal Activity

If you spend time on Oahu's North Shore this winter you're bound to encounter some new signage:

"North Shore Justice on Patrol 24/7. We're Watching You! You've Been Warned."

The man responsible for the blue, white, and red metal signs is Liam McNamara. The former professional surfer and owner of the North Shore Surf Shop has made headlines in Hawaii recently by spearheading a local initiative to form community watch programs on Oahu's North Shore.

I reached out the McNamara to learn more about his involvement in the movement and the impetus behind it.

Stab: What's going on with the crime on North Shore right now?

Liam: Last year, around this time, we had a person who was murdered that was a part of this community. It was a pretty tragic situation. That kind of seemed to be when things took a turn here on the North Shore and started to become a little more... more dangerous, I guess you could say. More criminal activity, more reports of, you know, not-positive stuff happening here on the North Shore.

There's always been a lot of petty theft of the North Shore, because of all the chronics hanging around, but are you saying there's been an increase in violent crime?

Well, yeah. I mean, in the last two, three, months, there's been a lot more vehicles being stolen, like the whole vehicle. A lot more home invasions, and also definitely an increase in armed robberies. Things that we're not used to seeing here on the North Shore.

The way things usually work here in Hawaii, if you have a problem, you scrap. On the mainland if you have a problem they pull a gun, really quick. Over here, in Hawaii, it just seems like there's an increase in people with arms. With knives and guns and... more violent armed robberies and assaults.

For example- at, like, two o'clock in the afternoon, a few weeks ago, two tourists were robbed at gunpoint at Kammieland, on the beach. And there was a gunpoint robbery at Shark's Cove two days before. All in the span of 48 hours there were two armed robberies.

So I thought it was a good idea to really push for the community to start a community watch program. I started sharing some stuff on social media pertaining to putting cameras up, alarm systems, closing and locking your gates. Everybody is locking their doors these days, which isn't normally a thing on the North Shore. In a nutshell, just alerting the community that they need to have their eyes open a little bit more. Be more vigilant. Have more awareness of your neighbors, of your neighborhoods. Just kind of work together to watch out for each other.

Where do you think is causing this uptick in violence?

A smaller percentage of it, but definitely a percentage of it, is pertaining to homeless people that come out here and are on drugs and are living on the North Shore. They are some of the culprits that are doing these things. But I'd say a higher percentage of it is just drug addicts here in the North Shore community that are struggling with ice and crystal meth. Those drugs that tend to cause people to do crazy things. Like break into houses and have guns and rob cars.

Here on the North Shore we're always going to have people that come from outside, that are Oahu residents that come to the North Shore to take advantage and rob the tourists. But I would say that the higher percentage is from our local community members that are struggling with the ice epidemic.

That being said–my message to anyone traveling to the North Shore–it's a regular occurrence during the winter season, there will be some photographer/videographer/camerman type guys that get all their equipment stolen...

'Oh, I just left my stuff in my car for five minutes and ran up to Off the Wall to look at waves. Ran up to Rocky Point to look at the waves...'

And they leave twenty grand worth of camera gear in their car. And that will happen if the visiting tourists and surf photographers are, to say it bluntly, stupid enough to leave items of that value in their car. For even a minute. Just don't do it.*

IMG 2702
Photography Sam Moody

How are you, or the North Shore community, planning on dealing with this increase in crime?

For me, I've done what I could with the signs and t-shirts. I might make more if people need them.

I'm planning on closing my gate. I'm planning on locking my cars. I'm planning on not leaving valuable stuff laying around my house and my yard and my businesses.

Everyone else, they have to do their part. Be proactive, be smart. Don't be stupid. Have awareness.

I'm not the guy that people need to be calling when they get robbed. Call the police. I'm not the guy that is going to find your criminal. I'm just a guy who's been robbed numerous times and majority of the time I get my stuff back. I know there are ways to protect yourself, protect your house, and protect your community. But that's up to each individual and each community.

If there's a crime watch program started that'd be great. I'd like to see it. I might join and be a part of it.

But it's not about being vigilantes, it's about being vigilant. It's not about violence and approaching criminals, it's more about being proactive in any way you can so as not be vulnerable to being a target.



*Within the first two days of Stab being on the North Shore, our rental car window was smashed at Rocky Point and our wallets and cell phones vanished. 

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