Mail theft cases span isle, pile up for Haiku woman
WAILUKU – A Haiku woman who was arrested Thursday is suspected of stealing mail throughout Maui, then forging checks and activating credit cards from the stolen mail, a deputy prosecutor said.
Davelyn Mahi, 41, who is also known as Davelyn Kuahuia, was arraigned Friday in two 2nd Circuit Court cases on forgery, theft and identity theft charges, with her bail set at $100,000 in each case.
She also appeared Friday afternoon in Wailuku District Court, where her bail was doubled from $20,000 to $40,000 in a case involving the theft of mail Feb. 6 from a Makawao residence. In that case, a credit card stolen in the mail was activated and used, according to a police investigation. Mahi is charged with second-degree theft, theft of a credit card, fraudulent use of a credit card and unauthorized possession of confidential personal information.
Deputy Prosecutor John Tam requested the increased bail, noting that Mahi has a record of 19 felony convictions, six misdemeanor convictions and nine petty misdemeanor convictions.
Mahi now has four pending cases in 2nd Circuit Court, Tam said. “This has to do with stealing mail all over the island of Maui, from Kula all the way to Haiku, all the way to Waihee and Wailuku and Kahului,” Tam said.
Mahi forged documents or checks taken in the mail thefts, he said. “A number of these have occurred while she was on bail for earlier charges,” Tam said.
When Mahi was arrested Thursday, her posted bail of $30,000 and $60,000 in two earlier cases was surrendered.
In addition to Mahi’s current court cases, “we have pending more than we can even shake a stick at, at this rate,” Tam said. “They’re coming in from the Police Department for the same types of things – theft of mail, forgeries of credit cards or checks, unauthorized possession of confidential personal information.”
When Mahi was arraigned Friday morning in one 2nd Circuit Court case stemming from a Feb. 9 incident, Deputy Prosecutor Justine Hura asked that Mahi be ordered to stay away from all mailboxes that she doesn’t receive mail at.
Judge Joseph Cardoza prohibited Mahi from being within 10 feet of any mailbox except her own post office box or mailbox. Mahi also was ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs and to report for supervision and random testing if she is released on bail.
In that case, Mahi is charged with two counts each of second-degree forgery and fourth-degree theft, as well as unauthorized possession of confidential personal information.
She was arraigned Friday afternoon in another 2nd Circuit Court case on charges of second-degree identity theft, theft of a credit card, fraudulent use of a credit card and unauthorized possession of confidential personal information.
When Mahi was arrested Thursday afternoon on the warrants, another woman also was arrested for hindering prosecution, police said.
Shauna Bergau, 38, who lives at the same address on Kokomo Road as Mahi, was released after posting $10,000 bail on charges of unauthorized possession of confidential personal information and hindering prosecution, according to police records.
Coinciding with Mahi’s arrest, countless Maui Meadows residents have reported their mail missing, torn open and stuffed in other people’s mailboxes over the past two weeks.
Toni Polancy, who lives on Hoomua Drive, said there were about a dozen pieces of neighbors’ mail crammed in her Kihei mailbox on Feb. 5.
“There was a whole pile and no mail that belonged to me so I took it down to the post office thinking that the mailman did it and he immediately said they’ve had problems with people stealing mail,” Polancy said Friday.
Polancy said that post office workers told her it has recently been happening in rural neighborhoods across the island, including in Maui Meadows.
On Wednesday, another Maui Meadows woman reported to police that she found about a half-dozen pieces of neighbors’ mail in her mailbox. Police said some of the neighbors did not know their mail was missing and that some expected items that were never recovered.
Brad Edwards, a tenant of Polancy, said that on Wednesday morning he saw a woman driving an old, gold-colored sedan driving on the wrong side of the street and making stops at mailboxes in the neighborhood.
While he thought it was “a little weird” and “suspicious,” he did not see her physically reach into mailboxes.
The South Maui community has begun to take notice of the mail thefts, however, and residents have communicated with one another through social media sites such as Nextdoor. The private social network service that is tailored for neighborhoods has helped residents such as Larry Shapiro to share their mail theft story and to warn others.
“This has been a huge topic on our site,” Shapiro said in an email. “In fact, without the site, people would never have known about this rash of thefts and be on the lookout, since no media reported on it.”
Shapiro, who started the Maui Meadows Nextdoor page, said that the site also helped alert residents of suspicious solicitors and mail thefts that occurred last year, in which police got involved.
Polancy, who also uses the social network site, said she has since bought a lock for her mailbox, which cost her $75 to $80. She said that some of her neighbors have done the same.
“We’ve had strange people go door to door before but this is the first time I’ve seen this and it’s certainly the first time I’ve got a whole mailbox full of mail,” she said. “That’s a terrible thing to do.”
Police advised the public to be aware of the mail theft problem. People who see anything suspicious should call police.