HANAPEPE — Benches built to accommodate visitors to Kauai Veterans Cemetery were stolen just weeks after they were installed.
Andrea Abalos, caretaker and equipment operator for the cemetery, said the benches cost about $150 each.
The benches are for visiting families of loved ones and for the community during the many veteran events around the year. They were placed under trees where people can take a break from the hot sun or rain.
“I don’t believe people would do this to a cemetery,” Abalos said. “It’s like taking somebody’s wheelchair or their cane.”
The benches were made by Abalos and others. The first benches were built and placed about two years ago. A second set was recently installed with plans for six more by Veterans Day on Nov. 11.
Two other benches on site were donated by the Boy Scouts. They are made of cement and are permanently in place.
The first bench went missing a month ago. It wasn’t until a second bench disappeared Wednesday morning that Abalos filed a report with Kauai Police Department.
The benches were secured to trees with a heavy chain and were cut with a tool.
“All this stuff is expensive,” she said. “It was $85 just for the wood, and $63 for the bolts and the paint, $150 for the chain, and $362 for the galvanized pipe alone, plus the angle iron rods and plates for welding that was already on hand.”
Abolos has been with the cemetery for six years and was made caretaker two years ago. During that time, she said there has been a fair amount of trouble with thieves and substance abuse.
“People broke into my storage room and stole two brand new weed whackers two years ago,” she said. “A lot of guys hang out here at night in back of the pavilion to use the bathrooms, and others wash their cars in the back.”
Abalos locked the cemetery gate and threatened trespassers with calls to police.
When the visitors started complaining about the distance they have to walk from the gate, Abalos said she opened the gate but with a little trepidation. She is hoping to have an assistant starting in November.
“They should be ashamed of stealing from the veterans who served our country,” Abalos said. “If anybody out there sees these benches, please report it to the police. If you took the benches and are out there reading this, then please bring them back.”
In the meantime, Abalos continues doing the grounds work and getting the site ready for Veterans Day.
Contact Kauai Police Department with any information at 241-1711 or the Crime Stoppers Line at 241-1887.