Program for at-risk youth put on hold after equipment theft from school

Program for at-risk youth put on hold after equipment theft from school

KANEOHE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Thieves targeted Benjamin Parker Elementary School over the weekend and got away with thousands of dollars worth of tents and gardening tools.

The items were taken from a storage area at the foot of a stairwell.

"My RTI team discovered it missing on Monday morning, and they knew that they had locked it up on Friday," principal Kathy Kahikina said.

The tents and tools were for the school's "Classroom Without Walls" program, an outdoor class for 70 at-risk students.

It's suspected thieves squeezed through the opening at the top of the gate and passed items through the bars.

"It was a lot of heavy things. You can't just pick up and run," program instructor Lorraine Pelekai said.

The most costly loss was the three large custom made tents plus their poles, joints and tie downs.

The school just bought them.

"It was purchased with grant money that we had applied for just to fund this program to meet some students' needs," Kahikina said.

One of the those tents was custom made to fit over a vegetable garden students planted and have been working on since the beginning of the school year.

The other tents were for the next phase of the garden project that's been put on hold until the school can replace the stolen goods.

"We were going to start the aquaponics and the hydroponics system before the school year ended, so when our summer school kids came we could actually continue it until the next school year," Pelekai said.

Total value of the loss is about $2,000.

"It hurts that adults would do this to kids or even other kids would do it to kids," Kahikina said.

If you have information on the theft, call police.

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