Are Elderly Micronesian Women Being Targeted by Thieves?

by: Otis Aisek

Honolulu, Hawaii (Dec. 25, 2013) - An elderly Micronesian woman had her purse stolen while she was receiving communion during Christmas Mass. This and other attacks to the elderly have widely gone unreported.

She blames herself for the event, "It's my fault" she stated, she left her purse on the pew as she went to receive communion.

Her story does not end there, she chased the thief and confronted him. She pleaded with him to return her belongings. He answered with a simple “no”, and promptly left the area. The thief made off with her personal papers, various forms of identification, money, and other irreplaceable valuables (he did however return her bus-pass). The many worshipers and bystanders (including on-duty cops) did not come to her aid. In their defense, she did not call for help, rather she rushed after the thief on her own.

The conversation then quickly shifted to the topic of identity theft. I asked her if she reported the incident to the authorities. She replied with a “no”. I explained the severity of identity theft and how it can affect certain opportunities such as loans, credit, banking etc. It was at this moment that a second elderly Micronesian woman joined in on the conversion. She overheard the topic and wanted to voice her personal experience. Three masked men robbed her on her way home. She did not call for help or report the incident to the police. She described the thieves’ attitudes as calm and relaxed, as if they knew that she would not scream for help.

Both ladies expressed concerns that their case is not a rare one. They explained the possibility that thieves are targeting Micronesian women, especially the elderly, because they understand that most Micronesian women will not resist and most of them will not report the crime to the authorities. To further their problem, they explained to me that they will not tell their relatives about incidents such as these, especially their male relatives, for fear that they may retaliate for them.

So what measures have they taken to protect themselves? They now wrap the straps of their bags around their arms, they only carry valuables with them when absolutely necessary, and the most difficult thing they’ve had to do: change their clothing preferences. Wearing muumuus out in public is described as wearing targets out on the streets. As for contacting the authorities and reporting the crimes? They both said they'll look in to it.

Identity theft is one of the most rapidly growing crimes in the world. Victims of identity theft may experience their names/identities being ruined and credit records disrupted. Victims may also lose employment opportunities, as well as education, loan, housing and a number of other benefits. In some cases, victims may serve jail time for crimes they did not commit.

For additional information on identity theft in the State of Hawaii please visit the following site:

1. Commerce & Consumer Affairs (Tips on how to protect yourself from ID theft).

If you suspect that you or someone you know is a victim of identity theft, please call the department’s identity theft hotline at 587-3222.