Vandals Knock Down Papaya Trees at Kea‘au FarmJune 12, 2012, 6:08 PM HST (Updated June 13, 2012, 10:44 AM)
Once again, Big Island police are investigating a case of vandalism to papaya trees in Puna.
Police said about 35 papaya trees were knocked over Monday on a farm located near 8½-Mile Camp in Kea‘au.
Workers in the area spotted the vandals pushing the trees over and striking at the fruit with sticks. The two males left the area on bicycles and were last seen getting into a blue Toyota four-door pickup truck.
One suspect was described as possibly in his teens with dark skin and short hair. He was wearing a white tank top and dark shorts. The other suspect also had dark skin and short hair and was wearing dark shorts and a black T-shirt with yellow writing. He was carrying a backpack.
The pickup truck that picked them up was last seen in the area of Kaloli Drive in Hawaiian Paradise Park.
The trees had an estimated value of $1,750.
Previous instances of papaya tree vandalism took place in lower Puna and involved many more trees.
They include the June 2010 destruction of 8,500 trees on 17 acres near Kapoho.
In August 2011, 10 acres of papaya were cut down on three adjoining farms several miles from the 2010 incident.
Because all of the trees in both were of the variety genetically modified to resist the ringspot virus, some farmers surmised it might have been the work of anti-GMO activists.
The latter incident prompted the offering of a $30,000 reward for information leading to the filing of charges against those responsible.