MOILIILI, Hawaii (KHON2) — Community members said broken glass, dumped clothes and vandalized graves are common sights at the Moiliili Japanese Cemetery.

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Family of loved ones laid to rest there are hoping to shine some light on the problem and come up with solutions.

Laura Ruby has been beautifying the Moiliili Japanese Cemetery since 2011 by raising funds to erect a surrounding wall, planting over 90 trees, putting in asphalt and more.

She said keeping it pretty is a constant battle with homeless.

“They must come in so early in the morning that it’s not even light or maybe it’s dark and they turn on the water full blast,” Ruby said. “You see all of that? That’s all from the full blast, wasting water. What they do is they wash their hair, their clothes, their bodies, and then half the time I guess they have excess clothes, they leave them lying all around.”

Ruby said broken flower vases are other safety issues left by vandals.

“Those are people that are probably high on something and are just throwing things against whatever they can find,” Ruby said, “and then we have to clean up the glass because it’s dangerous. So, it’s a major, major problem.”

Police opened a theft investigation during the weekend of Saturday, Oct. 14 after someone damaged the grave of Ann Henna-Suganuma’s grandmother by smashing open the crypt door.

“Kind of in shock,” Henna-Suganuma said. “And I thought the urns were stolen or if they had been dumped, you know, ashes on the ground.”

Thankfully, the dust that was seen in front of the crypt was not human remains.

“It was the incense,” Henna-Suganuma said. “Looks like they had thrown it against the door and maybe it shattered.”

“I was very emotional at that moment, yeah, but you know, relieved at the time that they didn’t steal our urns.”

Ann Henna-Suganuma

Ruby told KHON2 News that her plan is to raise enough funds to get security cameras installed in and around the cemetery — she just wants the surrounding community to keep an extra eye out in the meantime.

“Because we do have the condominiums around, if they do call 911,” Ruby said. “If you just say that, ‘I’m a neighbor, a friend,’ or whatever, ‘But please come out, this is what’s happening.'”

“I just want to get the word out there for everyone to — to be respectful!” said Henna-Suganuma.

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KHON2 inquired with Honolulu police to find out how many similar cases there have been at the cemetery in 2023, their answer was that no arrests were made in connection to the most recent incident.