Thieves burglarize elementary school on Oahu military base - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Thieves burglarize elementary school on Oahu military base

Agnes Leinau Agnes Leinau
Daylie Smith Daylie Smith
Tricia Matsukawa Tricia Matsukawa

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS (OAHU) - Elementary school students on Oahu urge thieves who broke into four of their classrooms to return their belongings.

The break-in happened over the Labor Day weekend, at a high-security area. The criminals struck Hale Kula Elementary, which is at Schofield Barracks.

Stolen items include electronics, field trip money, and even a bag of pennies worth $5 to $10 dollars that the students were collecting to raise money for kids with leukemia.

But their most devastating loss is some priceless pieces of Hawaiian culture.

Students are strumming along, trying their best to celebrate Hale Kula Elementary's 50th birthday. The school's anniversary this year falls on 9/9/09.

But a burglary over the Labor Day holiday, still strikes a chord with some 4th graders who are left with only seven ukulele. Thieves stole 25 other handmade Kamaka ukulele, which the school has had for more than 20 years.

"This is probably the most devastating of the thefts. The computers you can replace, but these will be virtually impossible for us to replace," said Agnes Leinau, Vice Principal of Hale Kula.

In letters they'll submit to newspaper editors, students expressed their frustrations.

4th grader Daylie Smith's letter reads, "Dear perpetrator of Hale Kula, you came to our classroom and actually robbed us of education. Now we don't have a projector which we use everyday for education. You have also stolen our ukulele which we now can't learn how to play. We would really appreciate it if you could bring the things you took back to us. It makes us very sad and angry becuase of what you took. Sincerely, Daylie".

Honolulu police say thieves broke the classroom doors open. Leinau says it happened Monday night. Although students were off on Labor Day, some staff members were working that day, and left the school by around 6:30 p.m. The next morning on Tuesday, teachers found four classrooms broken into. On Wednesday, the school changed the locks.

"I think we have a false sense of security being on a military base. We feel it is secure and obviously it's not," said Leinau.

In one 4th grade classroom, an empty green table was once filled with electronics, from projectors to a laptop.

"Also, the flat screen TV which was mounted to the wall, they removed that, so that was gone as well," said Tricia Matsukawa, a teacher.

Matsukawa says the timing doesn't help.

"Deployment just happened so a lot of them are, you know, Dad is not home so school is home for them," she said.

"I'm trying to just remain calm and positive and keep the day going as if it's normal for the kids," Matsukawa added.

Though police have no suspects, no leads, and no witnesses, students remain hopeful their loss will end on on a positive note.

To get on base, the Army says you have to show military or personal identification, such as a driver's license, plus proof of auto insurance and registration. And visitors must have a legitimate reason to enter.

In a statement, the U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii (USAG-HI) says:

"All personnel entering active us Army installations within USAG-HI's responsibility are required to show identification whether they are in a privately owned vehicle, government vehicle, or on foot, in order to gain access to the installation...Army law enforcement is working closely with the Honolulu Police Department in this investigation...and will pursue all avenues to apprehend those responsible."

Honolulu Police urge anyone with information about this case to call CrimeStoppers or the Wahiawa Police Station at 621-8442.

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