Stamps safe, safe’s not

MAKAWELI — Alleged burglars broke into the Makaweli Post Office last weekend and made off with a safe containing more than $10,000 in stamps, according to Post Office officials.

When an unnamed employee arrived to open the one-room Makaweli office at 8:19 a.m. on Sept. 6, she noticed the door had been damaged in the lock area and immediately called the police.

“It looked like they (the burglars) used some tool to pick away at the wood frame so that the deadbolt was exposed,” Postmaster Audrey Batongbacal, who arrived shortly afterward, said. “Then they just opened the door.”

The suspected burglars likely first tried to open the 31-inch by 31-inch by 51-inch, 1,000-pound safe, leaving an unscrewed metal handle on the floor.

“That’s all they were interested in,” said Batongbacal, who noted that the office computer and other items were left untouched. “It seems like they knew what they were looking for.”

Unsuccessful, they simply removed the safe, which contained less than $1,000 in cash but nearly $14,000 in postage of various denominations, from one cent stamps all the way up to $16.50 first-class envelopes.

The allegedburglars also cut the telephone lines and tried to pull an electrical box off of the wall, Batongbacal said.

The Makaweli Post Office, which is typically open from 8:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays, was shut down for the remainder of the day but reopened Monday. The door, phone lines and electric box were all fixed early in the week.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect or suspects, is conducting an investigation along with the Kaua‘i Police Department.

Batongbacal said that she had heard that the Makaweli Post Office had been vandalized in the past and that there had been an unsuccessful burglary attempt in recent years.

Anyone with information about the case is urged to contact Det. James Kurasaki at 241-1681, Police Dispatch at 241-1711, or Crime Stoppers at 241-1887.

Anonymous calls can be made to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s San Francisco office at 877-876-2455.

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