City hopes to flush out fixture thieves
More than 100 toilet valves vanish from restrooms at 28 Oahu parks
With toilet flush valves disappearing by the dozens from Oahu parks in the last three weeks, city officials could be excused for asking the obvious.
"Why would anyone want these?" Les Chang, director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, wondered aloud.
While city officials are "wrestling with" that question, Chang said yesterday, they are also dealing with the aftermath of the thefts -- more than 100 toilet flush valves from 28 parks, most in Central Oahu and the North Shore.
The debilitating petty crime has added up quickly. It will cost the city -- taxpayers, Chang noted -- more than $10,000 to replace the industrial-type flush valves. And because they cannot replace all the valves quickly, out-of-commission restrooms will inconvenience visitors.
"It's very upsetting, in a sense, to have to deal with this -- to have taxpayers to repair something like this that we could use for so much better purposes. Whoever is stealing them really is not doing the general community any favors at all," Chang said.
Most of the parks targeted were in isolated areas that are less frequented, including Ehukai, Haleiwa and Pokai beach parks. Other affected parks include Makakilo Community, Hans L'Orange and Ewa Beach.
The thefts likely occurred late at night and were probably committed by people familiar with installing and removing the fixtures, according to Chang.
"We think they know what they're doing (because of) the way they left it," he said, noting that the fixtures were cleanly disconnected.
"It's costing taxpayers a lot of money. That's why we're asking for help," he said. "It's gotten to be a very serious concern."
He speculated that the valves might have been stolen for scrap metal or for a project.
"It's not something that can be used in a house," he added.
Crew members are replacing the valves. Anyone with information on the thefts can call 911 or CrimeStoppers at 955-8300.