Stolen Merrie Monarch items recovered

One of two men identified by police as suspects in the weekend burglary of the Merrie Monarch Festival office in Hilo was wearing a red and orange Merrie Monarch pareo when arrested, according to court documents filed by police.

Documents state the pareo reportedly wrapped around the waist of 30-year-old Makua Amituanai of Pahoa fit the description of a stolen pareo, of which only two were made.


Amituanai and 36-year-old Dayson Eblacas of Ewa Beach, Oahu, were taken into custody by police Tuesday morning after a property manager in the commercial area of Waiakea Villas reported to police there were squatters in a building left vacant when the previous tenant died.

Police found a Dell laptop computer and external hard drive, both with stickers labeled “MM,” a conference speaker and two smart terminal card readers, one with a credit card inserted, documents state.

A police statement Wednesday evening noted that eight medals — British-made replicas of the military medals worn by King David Kalakaua, the “Merrie Monarch,” during his reign between 1874 and 1891 — also were recovered.

Also recovered by officers was a box of .22 caliber ammunition, 2.1 grams of crystal methamphetamine, 8.4 grams of marijuana, and a vaping device containing a marijuana concentrate.

According to documents, the only reportedly stolen item still missing was a black Blink surveillance camera Merrie Monarch officials said had been taken.

“I trusted the police to get it done, and they did,” Merrie Monarch Festival President Luana Kawelu told the Tribune-Herald. “I’m humbled by the overwhelming support that we’ve received statewide.”

In a statement from the Merrie Monarch office, Kawelu and her daughter, festival Vice President Kathy Kawelu, thanked the police “for their diligence in pursuing this case, which enabled the return of the medals used by our Royal Court and other items.”

They also extended their appreciation to Mayor Mitch Roth, the county Department of Parks and Recreation, and neighboring businesses “for their support of our organization following the recent break-in at our office.”

Eblacas — who has 17 prior convictions including six for felonies, according to court documents — told officers he had been in the Waiakea Villas building for about a week. He said he didn’t know who left the items in the building but felt “blessed” to have them and took responsibility for their possession.

Eblacas was charged with second-degree theft, being a felon in possession of ammunition, possession of methamphetamines, marijuana and marijuana concentrates, habitual property crime, and first-degree criminal trespassing.

The two most serious charges, second-degree theft and possessing ammunition, are Class B felonies that carry a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

Court records indicate Eblacas recently was released from prison after violating his probation in 2020 on a conviction for a 2016 auto theft.

Amituanai was charged with fourth-degree theft, first-degree criminal trespassing and habitual property crime.

The most serious charge, habitual property crime, is a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Amituanai was on supervised release — a form of cashless bail — in an unrelated active felony theft and auto theft case when apprehended.

Both men made their initial appearances Thursday in Hilo District Court.

Judge Kanani Laubach denied defense motions for supervised release or bail reductions for both men, maintaining Eblacas’ bail at $67,000 and Amituanai’s at $12,000.

Both were ordered to return to court Monday for a preliminary hearing.

Email John Burnett at

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