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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, March 6, 2006

Mililani High grateful for help after burglary

By Rod Ohira
Advertiser Central O'ahu Writer

Two businessmen have donated equipment to replace items stolen in a burglary two weekends ago at Mililani High School.

Mililani students were able to resume welding Thursday, thanks to a donation from a Kalihi Kai-based technical services company, whose president requested anonymity for himself and his business.

The company president purchased two new MIG welders to replace the ones stolen from one of the school's agriculture program classrooms, said Jeff Yamaguchi, an agriculture teacher who includes welding instruction in three of his five classes.

The new welders were accepted by the school Wednesday afternoon.

Mililani baseball coach Dean Sato, meanwhile, was on Maui with his team on Friday when his principal called to tell him a Kailua businessman bought a new generator to replace one that was stolen from the team's weight room.

Yamaguchi and Sato are appreciative of the donations.

"It's amazing that somebody stepped up so quickly," Yama-guchi said.

Thieves took two MIG welders and a plasma cutter in a burglary that occurred either the night of Feb. 26 or early morning Feb. 27, Yamaguchi said.

Each piece of stolen equipment is engraved with "Mililani High School Agriculture" and has a state identification tag.

Ironically, Yamaguchi's students were building metal frames with heavy-duty screens to beef up security at two classrooms before the burglary occurred. They resumed the project last week, said Yamaguchi.

Sato said he was "overwhelmed" by the offer to replace the baseball team's generator. "From someone not from our community to do it for us is very special," he said. "The news was really uplifting for our team."

Burglars stole a pitching machine valued at $2,500, the $3,000 generator, a PlayStation and two dozen new baseball caps from a clubhouse near the school's baseball field.

The generator, used to run the pitching machine and light the room, was loaned to the school by a friend of Sato. The PlayStation and games belonged to one of the players. Playing video games was among the activities at weekly "family bonding night" get-togethers, Sato said.

"It's just devastating that someone could do this to kids," Sato said of the theft. "... The kids took it hard. But we told them to learn from this and appreciate what we have."

Sato praised the parents of his players and booster club members for repairing and securing the damaged room.

Police have made no arrests.

Reach Rod Ohira at rohira@honoluluadvertiser.com.