Vandals steal wiring and a Christmas celebration

Parks Director Gary Cabato
Parks Director Gary Cabato
Wendy Maxwell, president of the Friends of Makiki Community Library
Wendy Maxwell, president of the Friends of Makiki Community Library

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

MAKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some thieves have taken Christmas away from a community, as well as virtually all of the electricity from one of Honolulu's busiest parks.

Makiki District Park's tennis and basketball courts, normally crowded with dozens of people at night, are dark, along with four of the park's buildings. That's all because sometime around Thanksgiving night or early Friday morning, vandals cut through the lock of an electrical box at the park, most likely to get the copper wiring.

"In order to pull the copper out, or the wires out, they had to access the bottom vault," said city Parks Director Gary Cabato, showing reporters the wiring box the thieves broke into. He then showed how the thieves did just that, cutting through the padlock on the basement vault door, and taking a lot of the wiring that supplies nearly all of the park's electrical needs.

The only thing in the park still functioning is the swimming pool facility. Everything else, including the parking lot, is just under the moonlight.

According to Cabato, city electricians determined that the vandals didn't get shock because they cut through neutral ground wiring, leading them to believe that the thieves knew what they were doing.

Makiki District Park has had its usual share of problems.

"We have a lot of graffiti. That seems to be the most common," Cabato said. "But this is the first time something like this happened in the park."

One of the hardest hit is the non-profit Makiki Community Library, which is not connected with the state library system. It's usually open just three days a week.

"Wednesday's our busiest day, with a lot of families coming in with their children and they're reading to children," said Wendy Maxwell, president of the Friends of Makiki Community Library. "It's just a sad commentary."

Also, because there's no electricity, there won't be a Makiki Mele Kalikimaka, the community Christmas celebration that was supposed to happen this Saturday.

"It's a community-based program," said Cabato. "They donated funds to have Christmas for the community here. And that's going to be all returned to the community."

Honolulu Police are investigating the theft. Meantime, city officials believe it won't be until sometime next week that replacement wiring can be found and installed. Those repairs and more heavily-secured facilities will cost about $20,000.

The city also says it is already taking steps to ensure that a similar incident doesn't happen again at Makiki Distract Park, or at any other park on Oahu.

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