DLNR Press Release: JOINT LAW ENFORCEMENT TASK FORCE TEAMS UP TO RECOVER STOLEN VEHICLES
Published on March 2, 2022 in Latest news from the department, Press room
(HILO) – Two trucks, a utility vehicle (UTV) and a dump trailer stolen from a DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) base yard last November have all been recovered. Today, a joint DLNR Resource Conservation and Enforcement Division (DOCARE) and Hawaii Police Department (HPD) task force recovered the $18,000 UTV from a property of the Puna district.
Previously, investigators found the two trucks, a 2008 Toyota Tacoma, a 2018 Ford F350 and the 18-foot-long trailer. The value of the stolen vehicles and the trailer exceeds $130,000. The thieves also took 140 individual items when they broke into the part of the Hilo facility that supports the work of the Mauna Kea Forest Restoration Project (MKFRP).
Nick Agorastos, a DOFAW Hawai’i branch supervisor and a colleague were with officers when the vehicle was recovered. “We are very happy to have him back. The loss of the trucks, trailer, UTV and other equipment would have set the project back a few years and likely reduced its ability to accommodate tree planting volunteers, community groups and members of the public. during the next planting season. The joint effort between DOCARE and HPD is to be commended,” said Agorastos.
The $70,000 Ford truck was recovered in January and HPD has arrested two suspects. Officers were unable to locate the dozens of items also seized during the break-in. Equipment is virtually everything that restoration project staff routinely use in the field. Items stolen include backpacks, tools, chainsaws, first aid kits, raincoats, fire extinguishers, coolers, water cans and fuel cans.
DOCARE chief Jason Redulla also praised the successful recovery of the four largest and most expensive items. “We are pleased that our combined efforts have returned vehicles worth over one hundred thousand dollars to the forest restoration project. When criminals steal from government facilities, they steal from us all. It is encouraging to see that the important work the MKFRP is doing on Hawai’i’s tallest mountain has not been crippled by these thieves.
The investigation is continuing and no further arrests have been made. Anyone with information about this crime is encouraged to call the DOCARE hotline at 634-DLNR, HPD at (808) 935-3511, or submit an anonymous tip via the free DLNRTip app.
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(All images/videos courtesy of DLNR)
Attached Photo: 2016 Polaris Ranger Utility Vehicle (March 2, 2022)
Senior Communications Manager
Hawaii Department of Lands and Natural Resources