A new law calls for stiffer penalties for stealing from farms, and farmers are being urged to report crimes.
Candido Medrano is a Waialua farmer who has been burglarized, not once, but twice.
The first time, thieves helped themselves to his bananas. The second time, they took all of his copper supports for his bitter melon plants.
"They just pulled all the pipes and I go there in the morning, and all my plants were falling down," said Medrano.
Medrano never reported the theft. But after Tuesday's meeting spearheaded by the North Shore Chamber of Commerce, he said he will.
Many of those who showed up are members of the Waialua Farmers Cooperative.
The farms can be easy targets, because they are not fenced.
“It's hard for the farmers because the bananas are once a year and that's their crop; that's their livelihood. The thieves are becoming very daring. They are coming in broad daylight now," said Edith Ramiscal.
Stella Lacuesta's father lost $500 worth of his crops of lychee and mangoes the night before he was to harvest it.
"He had a buyer for it and he had to tell that buyer he couldn't fulfill the order so that was disappointing," said Lacuesta.
One after another, the stories trickled out.
"Dragon fruit, bananas, and papayas, stolen in one week. How can they make money, and then, how do they live?" said Susan Matsushima, of Aluvion Inc. who also chairs the North Shore Chamber of Commerce.
The police are urging farmers to call 911 to file theft reports.
The information will help them track hot spots and deploy manpower where it’s needed most.
"You folks are our eyes and ears. We can’t do the job by ourselves. It's better to have 100 of you, than to have four officers assigned in the district," said Capt. Mark Ward.
Farmers were shown the latest infra-red cameras available, which may help catch culprits and build a criminal case to put thieves behind bars. From tomatoes, to papayas, they have all been targeted.
The message authorities say: farmers have to keep watch and report the crimes. It is good for the community, and good for business.