Burglars smash wall, take $150K

Burglars broke into four adjacent Lihu‘e businesses sometime between late on Sept. 6 and early on Sept. 7 and stole roughly $150,000 in jewels, cash, rare coins, gold and silver, one company’s owner said yesterday.

Rodger Parks of Hardy Street’s Gold and Silver Trading Co. said thieves used a hammer to tear a hole through his wall from inside a neighboring establishment, plundered display cases for valuables, and finally dragged a heavy safe out the back door.

“They had all the time in the world,” said Parks, who noted that the company had not yet installed security cameras at the time of the incident, but will now. “They took as much as they could carry. They just couldn’t carry it all.”

Parks said that he believes the burglars first gained access to the multi-business complex through the slatted back window of Ray’s shoe repair shop, then tried to pry the jewelry store’s back door open. When that attempt failed, they kicked in the back door of Beltone Hearing Aid and used a tool from Ray’s to rip a gaping hole in the drywall, according to Parks.

After filling bags with rings, bracelets, necklaces, Sacajawea dollar coins, pre-statehood Hawaiian currency and other valuables, they found a key, unlocked the back door and dragged the safe through Makena Miyaki Inc., a bookkeeping operation, scratching the tile floor on the way out, Parks said.

“They’re going to have to do some serious frying, some heavy-duty work to get it open,” he said of the safe, which measured roughly 5 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet and weighed hundreds of pounds.

Among the costlier items that were taken were several diamond bracelets valued between $3,000 and $5,000 apiece and a 101-ounce bar of silver valued at more than $1,000.

“I had just sent off a lot of gold and silver Saturday morning, or else it would have hurt to the point where I’d be a one-man operation. So, luckily they didn’t get that,” Parks said. “But it takes a toll on us.”

The apparently careless thieves knocked jewelry on the floor and missed assorted valuables, including a handful of Ni‘ihau shell necklaces collectively valued at $20,000, he continued.

Parks has been working with the Kaua‘i Police Department as well as the Hawai‘i Attorney General’s Office and other gold and jewelry trading stores, in an attempt to find the culprits.

“I had one gold coin that didn’t even look like a gold coin, but I told about 10 people how valuable it was. They reached over here and grabbed that one coin, so somebody was in the store before, I’m sure,” he said. “They will be caught. I think they’ll spend something somewhere.”

Parks also took out an advertisement in The Garden Island promising a $5,000 reward for information “leading to the apprehension, arrest and conviction of the person or persons” behind the burglary.

“I just want my stuff back. They violated us. They took advantage of something that was here for the community, helping people pay their bills” by buying their unwanted jewelry, Parks said. “To come in and do this hurts the community, not just me.”

Multiple messages left for KPD officials were not returned as of press time.

Incidentally, the robbery occurred the morning before burglars broke into the Makaweli Post Office, making off with a safe containing more than $10,000 in stamps.

• Michael Levine, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or via e-mail at mlevine@kauaipubco.com

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