COPPER THIEVES STILL AT IT ON SAIPAN

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Electrical wires worth $5,500 stolen from parks

By Ferdie de la Torre SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Sept. 1, 2009) - Electrical wirings worth about US$5,500 from four pavilions at the Susupe Regional Park were stolen on Friday, just days before the final installation of lighting fixtures at the park that would have made the area accessible at night.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Jason Tarkong said the thieves removed the electrical wirings from four pavilions, including the main breaker from the park’s stage.

Tan Holdings, which financed the renovation and upgrading of the park as a community project, has cancelled a back-to-school concert at the park this Saturday due to the incident.

Ed Arriola, corporate affairs officer of Tan Holdings, said they need US$2,700 to replace the stolen items and restore power in the area.

Tarkong said police officers responded Friday at 8:08 a.m. to Susupe Regional Park after they received report about a copper wire theft incident.

Police Officer Rudolfo Hermosilla learned that a contractor, RPM Corp., had been at the park on Thursday with a Parks & Recreation staff and a representative of Tan Holdings to finalize the lighting project. At that time, the group found everything in place.

The next morning, Friday, the contractor arrived at the park to meet with personnel from the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. to finally hook up the power and that’s when they discovered the crime.

The contractor discovered that the wires had been pulled out from the pipes from all four pavilions and the main breaker switch box was disconnected and pulled out. Police were then called.

Tan Holdings executives and employees volunteered last year to clean up the abandoned park, considered the first park on Saipan.

Arriola said they are still thinking if they will replace the stolen wires because they might just be throwing money away.

"That’s a big sum. We might just spend the money on some other school items for the students," he said.

He said they need to review the damage with their contractor.

"Some adjustments of the whole project must be done. There must be some kind of private-public partnership. We have to sit with the government to find solutions," Arriola said.

The cleanup last year was the first phase of the project, while the second phase was the installation of light fixtures, power outlets, breaker switches, and rewiring of the four pavilions and stage.

Arriola said this would have allowed the park to be lit at night. "It would have been beautiful. Sadly, last Thursday night’s incident rendered this project useless," Arriola said.

He said the company spent US$4,500 to get the project underway yet the estimated street value of the wires stolen is only about US$100.

"Our company has been trying to get this park going for almost a year. Since our renovations it has consistently been used for gatherings and events. Prior to our work, this park had been underused and neglected," he said.

"How can Tan Holdings again spend US$3,000 to get this place rewired? I could have given eight public schools US$500 each to get paper and pencils for their students that would last a couple of months," he said.

Tarkong said the NMI Crime Stoppers Program is offering up to US$1,000 cash to anyone who has information leading to the arrest of the copper wire thief or thieves.

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