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4 County Vehicles Used for Elderly Service Set On Fire, Destroyed

May 24, 2022, 4:16 PM HST
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Four county vehicles used by the Parks and Recreation Department’s Elderly Activities Division in Hilo were destroyed by fire on Sunday, May 22.

Arson is suspected. The vehicles were stored at the Kamana Senior Center and the cost of damages amounts to roughly $100,000.

Parks and Rec Director Maurice Messina said the vehicles were used for elderly transportation services and meal deliveries to homebound seniors.

“…So the idea of someone setting them on fire is senseless to me,” Messina said. “Over the last year, we’ve had numerous instances of vandalism at this facility, including vehicle gas lines cut, catalytic converters stolen, and break-ins at the office and storage lockers. We are trying to identify additional funds for security at the Kamana Senior Center, but our security budget is already stretched to over $1 million island-wide.”

Mayor Mitch Roth condemned the actions of the suspected arsonists.

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“It’s a shame to think that there are folks in our community who would intentionally destroy vehicles that are specifically meant to serve our kupuna,” Roth said. “We urge anyone who sees or hears of this type of activity to report it directly to the police. We will not stand for it and will ensure that any individual who attempts this type of egregious action is punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

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Messina said his department constantly struggles with people who don’t respect public facilities, “and feel that vandalizing county vehicles to steal gas or breaking into our maintenance supply rooms to rip off cleaning supplies has no consequences.”

Every time the county has to repair a vandalized facility or replace stolen equipment, Messina said it costs public tax dollars that should be used in other areas like programs and services.

To report information about the vehicle fires at the Kamana Senior Center, call the Hawaii Police Department’s non-emergency number at 808-935-3311.

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Parks and Recreation is asking for public assistance to notify law enforcement immediately if you see active vandalism or theft at any County park and/or beach. Additionally, if damage or vandalism is found at any County park and/or beach, the public is advised to inform Parks and Recreation as soon as possible at 808-961-8311.

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