Thieves ‘wreak havoc’ on park’s electric system
The stripping of copper wires at Sand Island State Recreation Area will cost $100,000
Thieves who pulled copper wires from electrical equipment at Sand Island State Recreation Area will cost the state in excess of $100,000, a Hawaii parks official said yesterday.
The crimes committed Nov. 14 and again Tuesday also robbed more than 100 people of a holiday weekend camp-out, said Dan Quinn, administrator of the state Parks Division.
"Not only did they steal wire, they damaged a bunch of switching components and vandalized irrigation control boxes," he said. "They've wreaked havoc."
Until the electrical damage is fixed, the park bathrooms are closed because sewage cannot be pumped from them.
On Wednesday the Parks Division put up 20 portable toilets at the park to enable it to open for daytime uses. Water is available at outdoor faucets, drinking fountains and showers.
But weekend camping at the park will not be allowed until the bathrooms are reopened, Quinn said.
Last weekend, 78 people who had permits to camp at the park had to make other plans, Quinn said. This weekend, 111 people were scheduled to camp there.
No new camping permits will be issued until electricity is restored, he said.
"We're making progress, but there is significant damage throughout the park," including three-quarters of street lights and many automatic sprinkler system components, said Steve Thompson, Oahu supervisor for the state Parks Division of the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Thompson asked for the public's help in apprehending the copper thieves.
"If they see anybody disassembling something that doesn't appear to be an appropriate licensed contractor, they should bring it to the attention of police or the DLNR conservation officers," he said.
The department's conservation hot line (643-DLNR) is answered 24 hours a day, Thompson said.
Thompson also called for stricter controls on metal recycling operations that might be buying the stolen wires.
"If I showed up at a place and had a bunch of pieces of wire and was not an electrical contractor, you'd think they'd be saying, 'Where did you get all this stuff?'" he said.