Thursday, June 28, 2001

Stephanie Paz and school children play with the remaining
playground equipment at Barbers Point Elementary School today.

School’s playground
equipment stolen

Thieves make off with
2 entire sets at Barber's
Point Elementary School

By Nelson Daranciang

When Staphanie Paz showed up at Barbers Point Elementary School Monday morning she immediately felt something was different.

The space that is usually occupied by playground equipment for the Head Start program was empty.

Over the weekend thieves stole two adjustable playground sets -- one with two slides and a tunnel and another one with just a slide. Paz said new playground sets would cost $510.

The thieves also stole a playhouse, merry-go-round and sand box that were donated last year by a military family leaving the islands.

"Whoever took it, I hope they really needed it because this is really sad," she said.

Paz was on the phone most the morning with people offering to donate money and equipment to the school. She said the U.S. Marine Corps has offered to donate manpower to install the equipment. Radio station Krater 96 (KRTR FM) said its listeners pledged $2,220 this morning to replace the stolen equipment.

The Head Start program is for children from low-income families. There are 23 four- and five-year-old children enrolled in the summer program at Barbers Point.

Brenda Detwiler, mother of a 5-year-old daughter, Michiko, and a school volunteer, said when one of the children asked her what happened she did not know what to say. "This is the place where they come; it's secure and they teach the kids to share and have respect for people. And someone comes along and disrespects them."

Detwiler told her daughter: "someone stole it and that wasn't nice."

Paz said the only toys left for the children to play with are five tricycles, five hula hoops, a balance beam and a table into which they can practice pouring water or sand. They are stored in one of two classrooms the program rents from the school.

Paz said somebody must have seen the thieves steal the equipment since there are no other buildings for at least a quarter mile around the school to conceal the theft.

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