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Trail goes hot and cold as search continues for escapees

By Andrew Pereira
Published On: Dec 06 2012 09:44:00 PM HST

Big Island banks are placed on high alert while the escapees not yet found.

HILO, Hawaii -

Big Island police have warned all financial institutions that two men who escaped from the Hawaii Community Correctional Center Wednesday morning could try to rob a bank.

"We received information from more than one individual that we deemed credible," said Capt. Robert Wagner of the police department's South Hilo patrol.  "We felt it was necessary to alert the banking community and banking establishments that this may occur."

According to police, 35-year-old Jarvis Higa and 31-year-old Ryan Jeffries-Hamar assaulted a guard at the Hawaii Community Correctional Center's law library at about 10 a.m. before taking off in a car owned by the prison's librarian.  A short time later, the vehicle was found abandoned about a mile away.

News of the escape has seemingly reached all corners of the Big Island, which has a land area of 4,000 square miles and plenty of forested areas in which to hide.

"It concerns me," said Hawaiian Beaches resident Ron Broomell, "but I can't say that I'm too worried because I think from my past experiences here, that people who escape, it doesn't take too long for them to be found."

Police have been concentrating their search in Puna and the Kaumana Homestead area of Hilo.

Sometime before noon on Thursday, police rushed to a home on Kaumana Drive above Wilder Road after receiving a call of a burglary in progress. Officers thought the break-in could be the work of Higa and Jeffries-Hamar, but no one was located.

"We have conducted several follow-up investigations as far as trying to locate their whereabouts," said Wagner.  "I think it's only a matter of time that they do get apprehended, but hopefully we'll catch them sooner (rather) than later."

Police confirmed another burglary on Wednesday, also on Kaumana Drive, was in fact the handiwork of the two men.  Wagner said Higa and Jeffries-Hamar took items from the home's icebox, a change of clothes and tried to steal a car in the driveway.

"People make the mistake of thinking that their cars are safe parked in their driveways, and sometimes they leave their cars not only unlocked, but the keys in the ignition or nearby," said Wagner. "That's what these individuals actually look for."

Higa and Jeffries-Hamar are considered dangerous. Higa was in jail for an attempted murder charge, after firing a shot at a man at a condominium parking lot in Hilo in July.  Jeffries-Hamar has prior convictions for burglary and theft, and escaped from the Hale Nani Correctional Facility on August 14, before being captured September 8.

Big Island police have created task forces in Hilo and Kailua-Kona to bring the two men back to prison.

"The last report that we received, they were still together," said Wagner. "We don't know at this time if they are still together or not."

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