Kahului woman was placed on probation after ‘mini crime spree’

The Maui News

WAILUKU — A woman was placed on probation last month after spending about four months in jail for burglarizing a Wailuku hostel and stealing a phone from a vehicle in Lahaina.

Lia Nelson, 29, of Kahului was arrested after the iPhone owner tracked his phone and heard it alert in Nelson’s purse March 31 on Front Street, said Deputy Prosecutor Jeffery Temas. 

About 12 hours earlier, shortly after midnight, video showed Nelson following a guest through the door of the North Shore Hostel on West Vineyard Street, then going into rooms and stealing belongings, said 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo.

“I don’t know what kind of 12-hour cycle you’re working on,” she told Nelson at her sentencing Aug. 31.

In the two cases, Nelson had pleaded no contest to first-degree unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, third-degree theft, first-degree burglary and fourth-degree theft.

Deputy Public Defender Ben Lowenthal said Nelson was told she has a year to make changes so she can have parental rights for her children on Oahu. “That is a huge motivating factor,” he said.

“Being in jail made me realize life is too short to be messing around,” Nelson said in court.

Temas said Nelson “went on a mini crime spree” on March 31, stealing a chess set, bed linens, pillow case, sweatshirt, bowl and towel from the hostel.

In the Lahaina case, the vehicle was in the 500 block of Front Street when the phone was stolen and found in Nelson’s purse as she walked down the street, Temas said.

Nelson was placed on four years’ probation and was released from jail. She was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service and to have no contact with the iPhone owner and to stay away from the North Shore Hostel.

“Some people are motivated by money,” Judge Loo told Nelson. “Some people are motivated by food. In your case, I hope you’re motivated by the chance of reuniting with your children.”