Of all places...Veterans Cemetery burglarized? - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Of all places...Veterans Cemetery burglarized?

by Nick Delgado

Guam - As Guam and the rest of the country prepare to celebrate one of the most patriotic holidays, vandals broke into the Guam Veterans Cemetery and took off with thousands of dollars worth of equipment as well as damaged the cemetery's maintenance facility. While police are seeking the suspect at large, at least one vet feels the incident could have been prevented if the government invested in greater security.

Around 7:30 this morning workers with the Veteran's Affairs Office noticed something was out of place at the Veterans Cemetery in Piti: the facility had been burglarized. Administrative assistant Cindy Gogo said, "When the staff came in and they sat down for a few minutes and just looked across the room and discovered that there was something was amidst like the cabinet, which was wide opening whereas normally on a closing day it's always kept shut. And so when they saw that was wide open that's when they said something's wrong."

Gogo says the staff found lockers and doors pried open, adding that she says the suspects made off with three bushcutters, a chainsaw, a blower, a water blaster, two fifty-foot water hoses, a couple five-gallon gas tanks filled with gas and a utility mule or golf cart. Gogo says the theft negatively impacts the upcoming burials they have for fallen heroes, but  says they are still hoping to get by with what equipment they still have, along with the stolen items and damages, Gogo estimates the incident hurt the agency by $50,000.

Officials believe that the suspect broke in through an open area pushing an air conditioner in and entering into the facility. Police also dusted the area for prints and may have found something of interest, a single piece of evidence that Gogo is hopeful may help solve the case. She confirms Guam Police investigators were able to pull a fingerprint from outside a locker.

While police continue the investigation, veterans like Tom Devlin are not surprised to hear the facility was burglarized. "The question is there security at the cemetery? I don't see any a security guard there, I don't see a contractor contracted out to provide some kind of security at the maintenance building, even at that robberies will occur, but what is the deterrent try to put something up there like that?"

The former U.S. Marine continued, "What is the reason the Government of Guam can't do it? Money. But now that equipment is stolen, how are you going to replace that equipment, you need money. I don't know what the veterans are going to say about this but I do believe they are not going to be happy."

However, Gogo says Devlin's concern will not fall on deaf ears, saying, "Security has always been in the back of my administrator's mind and we were just trying to get everything completed like the retrofitting under the ARRA, but that is in his mind and it is the in the planning to get security here because its almost impossible to just leave the cemetery and expect nothing to happen."

In the meantime, Gogo says the agency is working with BBMR to get new equipment in the event the stolen items are not retrieved. Anyone with information is urged to contact GPD's Criminal Investigation Section or Guam Crimestoppers at 477-HELP (4357).

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