Hawaii island police officers are investigating the theft of $25,000 in vehicles and equipment from the Nature Conservancy’s storage area in Kau.
The incident marks the second theft of Nature Conservancy property at the site within the year.
Items stolen include a 2009 Troy flatbed trailer with a wooden bed, a 2009 Honda utility terrain vehicle painted green-and-tan camouflage, and a green ATV 400 owned by a contractor.
Items apparently stolen Tuesday from the storage area on Kaiholena Preserve include a utility terrain vehicle, a trailer, a contractor’s all-terrain vehicle, chain saws and trimmers.
Suspects were spotted Tuesday driving a black Toyota pickup headed toward Pahala and coming from roads leading to macadamia orchards.
Conservancy officials said although the vehicles and equipment were insured, the theft delays work to protect the native forests.
“It puts a wrinkle in doing our conservation work,” said Mark Fox, the group’s director of external affairs.
Officials said the equipment and vehicles are used in building fences and clearing weeds from sensitive areas of native forests and watershed.
The Kaiholena Preserve includes 3,500 acres and is next to the 60,000-acre Kau Forest Reserve.
The group said the fencing prevents pigs, goats and mouflon sheep from damaging native forest areas.
The Kaiholena Preserve and Kau Forest Reserve contain endangered native plants as well as birds, such as the iiwi (scarlet Hawaiian honeycreeper) and the Hawaiian hawk, and include watershed areas.
Fox said his group is offering a reward for information leading to the recovery of the vehicles and equipment.
The missing items include a 2009 Troy flatbed trailer with a wooden bed, a 2009 Honda utility terrain vehicle painted green-and-tan camouflage, and a green ATV 400 owned by a contractor.
About a year ago, 500 meters of deer mesh fencing installed by an all-volunteer labor crew was stolen.
Police Capt. Burt Shimabukuro said the theft of vehicles and equipment that can be used in farming is fairly common on Hawaii island.
He said unlike cars and trucks, utility and all-terrain vehicles are often not registered with the county and, once stolen, might be modified with a new color of paint to disguise them.
Anyone with information about the theft is asked to contact Hawaii County police, 808-939-2520.