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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Thieves strike again at Wahiawa library

By Curtis Lum and Rod Ohira
Advertiser Staff Writers

The head librarian at Wahiawa Public Library can only hold his breath and hope that there will be no more break-ins at his library until a security system can be installed.

But Anthony Hooper said he does not know how long it will take for the system to be approved, and it may be just a matter of time until another break-in. In the past 12 months, burglars have hit the library at 820 California Ave. six times.

The latest incident occurred over the weekend when someone cut a heavy chain and padlock at the library's back door. As in earlier break-ins, the thieves stole computer equipment, DVDs and other supplies.

"We are looking for some kind of temporary (security) solution. We don't really know for sure what, but we're looking into it," Hooper said. "If it happens again, well, then, it happens. But we hope not."

Hooper said the library has just three computers available for the public and three computers for the staff. That's what's left after thieves took nine computers and parts, nearly all of the library's DVD collection and some cash over the past year.

"Our biggest impact is we have a heavy Internet use and you have to wait longer," Hooper said. "On top of that, every break-in means less money to buy videos, DVDs and books and stuff because we have to pay for the repairs out of our operating budget."

He added that he will not replace the stolen computers until a security system is in place. "I don't want another computer here and have it ripped," he said.

Martha Hanson, president of Friends of the Wahiawa Library, said her organization was willing to pay half the cost of a security system if the state pays the other half.

Lynn Masumoto, administrator of the state Public Libraries Branch, said the state is working through the Department of Accounting and General Services to secure the building. Masumoto received an inquiry Monday advising her that DAGS is looking at cost factors of putting in a security system.

"I'm was not aware of Friends' offer," Masumoto said. "If they are willing to pay half to put in a security system, it would make it more feasible."

Masumoto said the state has tried to discourage break-ins. "The last batch of computers stolen (over the weekend) were chained together. They cut through the chains. The computers also had big names and marks on them to discourage the thieves."

Bob Lormand, a substitute librarian and a Friends of the Wahiawa Library member, said 80 DVDs were stolen in January. "The only ones we have left are those that were checked out at the time of the burglary," he said.

Masumoto said the state has money to replace the DVDs.

Hanson also is discouraging people from donating replacement computers at this time. "If we can't resolve the security problem, it'll happen again," she said of the burglaries. "What we could really use is a security company to come forward and help us figure out a solution."

Wahiawa police said a man suspected of one of the earlier library burglaries is facing indictment on an unrelated criminal charge.