By COLIN M. STEWART
Tribune-Herald Staff Writer
The golf course at Naniloa Volcanoes Resort in Hilo has been closed since this weekend after a group of vandals broke into a storage shed in the dead of night and took up to 20 golf carts on costly joyrides in the Banyan Drive area.
Five or six of the carts were rendered inoperable, and one even ended up in Hilo Bay, according to hotel and golf course owner Ken Fujiyama.
“It was really terrible,” he said Wednesday evening. “We’re still waiting back to hear from the insurance company with an estimate of the damage.”
A Hawaii Police patrolwoman was passing by shortly after midnight Friday when she saw one of the carts driving on Banyan Drive, said Capt. Robert Wagner of South Hilo Patrol.
“She made two arrests, one adult and one juvenile,” he said.
The adult, 18-year-old Keaau resident Nolan Alexander, was charged with burglary in the second degree, theft in the second degree, and unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle. He is currently out of jail on $6,000 bail.
The juvenile is 17, Wagner said, and therefore no information is being released about him. But, he said, police in the Criminal Investigations Section are looking into at least two other suspects, he said.
Fujiyama said he opted to close the golf course to the public after some of the carts failed while customers were using them on Saturday. It will likely stay closed until early next week, when his employees have had time to fully inspect the carts and repair them.
“We don’t want to leave anyone stranded out on the course, or for them to be unsafe,” he said.
In all, between 17 and 20 carts were moved by the burglars from their original parking spaces, with many of them sustaining scratches and other superficial damage, police said. Other items in the storage building were damaged, but police would not go into additional detail.
Fujiyama said his employees had to spend the day Friday retrieving the vehicles from various locations in the area of Banyan Drive, including Liliuokalani Garden and near Nihon Restaurant. One of the golf carts had to be retrieved from Hilo Bay after it appeared to have been driven into the water near the canoe area at Bayfront Beach.
Email Colin M. Stewart at email@example.com.