HONOLULU (KHON2) — Thieves stole $20,000 worth of equipment at the H-Power plant in Campbell Industrial Park. City officials said the thieves were able to get through a broken gate.

Workers said thieves stole four welding machines that were safely secured in a rack. Each one of them costs about $5,000. Workers said you need tools to unbolt the machinery from the brackets. They look like portable generators and each one weighs about 50 pounds.

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“These guys know what they were doing?” asked KHON2.
“Yeah probably, they knew where it was, they knew where to go,” said worker Gary Kaopuiki.

A spokesman for the city, which owns the H-Power plant, said the thieves were able to get in through the front gate, which was broken. That has now been fixed. Kaopuiki said it only took about 20 minutes for thieves to get in and out of there.

It happened around 3 a.m. Saturday morning, but this place operates 24 hours. So officials said thieves posed as somebody who was supposed to be there working.

“Even us, we come in all hours. If we get emergency call outs, we come and grab tools go to the other job site,” said Kaopuiki.

The General Contractors Association said the construction industry has become a favorite target among thieves, especially since the pandemic. And posing as workers is a common strategy.

“To the point where people pull up to a site wearing a bright yellow shirt posing as construction workers and they’ll just drive in and start trying to load things up,” said Steve Baginski, vice-president of the General Contractors Association.

Baginski said these thefts hurt the whole industry and lead to additional costs which get passed on to the customers. He adds that sadly, thieves will likely be able to resell the welding machines at a much cheaper price. He said it’s important for those buying high ticket items to make sure that they’re not stolen.

“If there’s items that might be registered, they might have ID numbers on it, serial numbers on it, that could be registered at the police department. It’s a little bit of a hassle, but if people cannot unload the equipment maybe they’ll stop stealing,” Baginski said.

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Baginski adds that businesses can place GPS tags on expensive equipment to help recover them.