Toilet-flusher thieves targeting local parks
Via Pacific Daily News
A puzzling pattern of toilet thefts has continued to plague the island's public parks, but it appears that whomever is behind the bathroom break-ins is now targeting local parks instead of national parks.
The Department of Parks and Recreation has been struck by toilet thieves three times since July, and the latest break-in was discovered over the weekend.
Parks administrator Mike Cura said nine high-pressure flushers have been swiped from bathrooms at Fort Apugan and Angel Santos Latte Stone park.
Four flushers were stolen from the latte park on July 7. The agency replaced the flushers and they were stolen again a week later. On Saturday, it was discovered that a single flusher had been stolen from the bathrooms at the fort.
It is likely the same people are behind all three thefts, and it is clear they have some experience in plumbing, Cura said.
"They know what they are after," Cura said. "The first time they came in, they did it on a Saturday when the park attendant was there. She was off to the side cleaning."
The crime is difficult to stop, Cura said. Parks and Rec doesn't have enough manpower to monitor all the parks all the time, and the agency would have to spend heavily to harden security at the bathrooms.
In an effort to catch the thieves, anyone who sees suspicious activity at a park bathroom should contact police, Cura said. The break-ins have already cost the agency more than $5,000, Cura said.
But the real damage is done to the tourism industry, Cura said. The bathrooms at both parks are closed -- and the bathrooms at the latte park have been closed for six weeks -- but tourists still visit every day.
Flusher thefts may sound like an uncommon crime, but washroom vandals have been targeting the island's parks all year. Someone broke into the bathrooms at Guam's national parks in both March and June, stealing at total of 12 flushers from the public toilets at two park units.
Barbara Alberti, superintendent of the War in the Pacific National Historical Park, said in June that she suspected the same people were behind both break-ins, and that it appears they are targeting parks. Alberti also believed the thieves were trained as plumbers.
After the bathroom burglary in March, a local recycling company said the flushers, which most likely are made of brass, would be worth no more than $8 each if sold as scrap. Karen Li, who processes scrap sales for Pyramid Recycling, said anyone with the plumbing know-how to steal the flushers would know the metal isn't worth very much, so it's more likely the thieves planned to reinstall the flushers on toilets elsewhere.
The previous flusher thefts were so strange that a Pacific Daily News story about the break-in was adopted by the Associated Press, then republished in newspapers in the mainland, Canada and Taiwan. The thefts also were mentioned in an article by Atlantic Magazine, which compiled stories of bathroom break-ins from around the nation. Read more here via Pacific Daily News