A Red Cross truck was stolen last night from the relief organization’s office in Hilo.
Volunteers discovered the missing vehicle this morning as they arrived to prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Iselle.
The truck is the Red Cross’ only vehicle on the island and used to tow its supply trailer. It was kept in a fenced area on Ululani Street, and the thief or thieves used the truck to ram a locked gate.
Barney Sheffield, Red Cross disaster coordinator for the island, said the trailer was full of supplies but left untouched.
The trailer has since been relocated to the Hawaii County Civil Defense warehouse with the help of the agency.
“How can anyone be so callous to steal a truck in a time of a disaster?” Sheffield wondered.
“We could be helping their family,” he added.
Sheffield said the supplies would be used for disaster relief following the storm or for long-term shelters. They weren’t expected to be used for the shelters today.
To transport the supplies, he said he needs a truck with a hitch.
Sheffield said the Red Cross may be able to use the Civil Defense truck again but noted it’s important for them to be self-reliant and not interfere with other response efforts.
Coralie Matayoshi, Red Cross Hawaii Chapter CEO, said the organization may borrow or rent a truck.
“After the storm passes we’ll need it to help deliver supplies,” she said. “… so we need this truck.”
The truck is white with Red Cross symbols on it, and Matayoshi said she was concerned it could be used by someone impersonating Red Cross volunteers.
“Someone may use it for ulterior purposes as well,” she said, adding she isn’t sure why it was a target.
The license plate is 998 HDP, police said.
Anyone who sees it is asked to call police.