‘My first reaction was one of shock’: Merrie Monarch office burglarized

Facebook photo These medals, British-made replicas of those worn on the military uniform of King David Kalakaua, the "Merrie Monarch," were among items stolen in a weekend burglary of the Merrie Monarch Festival office in Hilo.

JOHN BURNETT/Tribune-Herald Merrie Monarch Festival Vice President Kathy Kawelu takes phone calls Monday at the festival's office, which was burglarized over the weekend.

JOHN BURNETT/Tribune-Herald The Merrie Monarch Festival office in Hilo, pictured here on Monday, was burglarized over the weekend.

Police estimated the value of items stolen in a weekend burglary of the Merrie Monarch Festival office in Hilo as more than $2,700.

The break-in at the festival’s Piilani Street building occurred sometime between 10 a.m. Sunday and 7:30 a.m. Monday.


“My first reaction was one of shock. I just couldn’t believe that they broke into our office,” Merrie Monarch Festival President Luana Kawelu said Monday afternoon. “For me, it’s really hurtful that it did happen. But fortunately, no one was there, and nobody got hurt.”

Kathy Kawelu, the festival’s vice president and Luana Kawelu’s daughter, said at about noon Monday that office staff and volunteers were cleaning up and working on an inventory of what remains in the office.

“We’re still trying to figure out what is missing, because they went through all the desks and stuff,” Kathy Kawelu said. “There was a lot of rummaging through things. They took a lot of the electronics, laptops, conference speakers, stuff like that. And the medals.”

The medals she referred to were 12 Merrie Monarch Royal Court medals in a picture frame. The medals are English-made replicas of those worn by Kalakaua and his court during his reign from Feb. 12, 1874, which ended with his death in San Francisco on Jan. 12, 1891.

“I hope our pawn shops are aware — not just our pawn shops, but pawn shops on other islands, as well,” Luana Kawelu said. “Right now, hopefully, the police through fingerprints and whatever can find out who has it and, if they still do, get it back for us.”

Colleen Kawelu, another of Luana Kawelu’s daughters, said it appeared the break-in occurred in the kitchen, which is in the back of the building.

“The jalousies are missing from the window. That’s the only piece of information we have at this point,” Colleen Kawelu said, and added it appeared the burglar or burglars exited the office through a door.

“We’re still getting a full assessment of what’s going on over here,” she added. “We have to clean out the refrigerator, because they went through the refrigerator and broke it. So, we’re going to have to get rid of the food before it starts to smell.”

Kathy Kawelu said the office has a video surveillance system but the burglar or burglars apparently tampered with it.

“They also tampered with the Wi-Fi and the phone lines and stuff like that, so we’re trying to get a handle on it,” she said. “We just got our phones back up.”

Kawelu said the thief or thieves also rummaged through boxes of T-shirts and might have taken some, although those for sale on shelves in the front of the office remained undisturbed.

Police responded to the burglary report at 7:49 a.m.

“We’re just starting to work on it and don’t have any leads yet,” Sgt. Nelson Cacho Sr. of Hilo Patrol said Monday afternoon. “We’re hoping those who know something will call us with leads.”

Asked if the Merrie Monarch offices had been burglarized before, Luana Kawelu replied, “No. Never, never in all our years. Never, never in 60 years.”

“We’re just going to leave it up to the police. They’ll find out who it was,” she said. “We know we have the support of the community. People want to take care of us because we are a community organization.”

Hawaii Police Department’s East Hawaii Criminal Investigation Section Crime Reduction Unit is continuing the investigation, and police ask that anyone with information regarding this incident call the police department’s nonemergency line at (808) 935-3311.

Those with information can also email Detective John Balberde at john.balberde@hawaiicounty.gov.

Those who prefer to anonymity may call Crime Stoppers at (808) 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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