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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 28, 2006

$9K in ag equipment stolen at Mililani High

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

O'ahu farmers have had to deal with theft for years, but last weekend burglars struck the agricultural program at Mililani High School and stole an estimated $9,000 in equipment.

Jeff Yamaguchi, agricultural teacher at the school, said he believes the break-in occurred sometime Sunday night or early yesterday morning. Yamaguchi said he thinks more than one person was involved because several of the items taken were large and heavy.

He said two MIG welders and a plasma cutter were stolen. But the biggest piece of equipment, a gas-driven welder valued at $5,000, was on a trailer that would have to be hitched to a truck or sport utility vehicle.

Yamaguchi said it was clear that the thieves knew what they were after. They cut through three gates and a chain-link fence, he said, "so they were here a while. It took a lot of people to get it out."

With the equipment gone, Yamaguchi said his program will be affected. He said three of the five classes that he teaches do some welding.

"Basically I cannot teach welding anymore, everything's gone," Yamaguchi said. "The hard part, too, for me is the gas-driven welder and my plasma cutter I just bought this year. I just got the money budgeted this year so I don't think we've even had that thing for six months and it got stolen."

About two weeks ago, Yamaguchi said his classroom was broken into and he believes the same people may have been involved in the two burglaries.

"Last time they came by foot, (Sunday night) they came in a truck. They came prepared," he said.

Each piece of equipment is engraved with "Mililani High School agriculture" and has a state identification tag. The agricultural program is just off Meheula Parkway across the street from the Ruby Tuesday restaurant.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call police or CrimeStoppers at 955-8300.

Reach Curtis Lum at culum@honoluluadvertiser.com.