While the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games Organizing Committee is working overtime to prepare for the quadrennial event the CNMI will be hosting for the very first time this June, thieves again struck and stole another anchor bolt or rod that will be used for the outrigger canoe competition.
Organizing committee CEO Vicente “Ben” Babauta is appealing to the community to help prevent the stealing of Mini Games equipment and those who have leads to the latest thievery to call the authorities to get them back. He said this is the third time an anchor bolt or rod has been stolen from the Saipan lagoon. The latest anchor bolt stolen was situated about 200m off the 13 Fishermen Monument.
“We have completed our va’a lane lines and part of the contract is to put anchors to hold up the buoys and I guess it’s already the third time that fishermen or someone out there pulled it out and took it. It’s a stainless steel rod that we’ll be using to hold the buoys in place. I asked the community to please, please, please fishing is fine but do not pull these rods out because they cost money and we’re preparing for the Mini Games.”
Babauta said with the Mini Games less than 50 days away, time is of the essence and the organizing committee has little time and not enough resources to replace stolen equipment.
“I asked the community to please do not pull those rods out and please protect them. We’ll be using them for the Mini Games and in fact we will have a dry run on May 7 so now we have to scramble to replace those stolen rods. They’re not cheap as they probably cost a couple of hundred dollars each and we ordered them off-island. It’s honestly an honestly unnecessary action and if anyone out there knows anyone doing this to report it to Crime Stoppers because it’s a theft, it’s a crime obviously pulling it out and stealing it from the games organizing committee,” he said.
The games organizing committee CEO said at the end of the day, the CNMI must put its best foot forward as the best athletes not only in the region but in the world will be arriving in the CNMI for the Mini Games.
“Team Tahiti is coming, the No. 1 [va’a] team in the world, and at the end of the day our goal is to finish second,” he half-jokingly said.
Northern Marianas National Paddle Sports Federation president Justin Andrew also appealed to the public to help them solve this crime.
“It was just yesterday that I was informed by those that are out there setting up our sprint lane that they discovered another anchor bolt missing. Please leave those items alone as they’re critical for our va’a sports hosting. Without those anchors, the CNMI will not be able to host the va’a competition.”
Aside from not being able to stage the outrigger competition, Andrew added that the loss of the anchor bolt will also prove somewhat detrimental to their training regimen.
“It will disrupt our training on the lanes since we will not have the buoys and flags to use. But we can still train, but for sure we will not be able to hold competition with missing anchors since there will also be missing buoys and flags.”
CNMI National Outrigger Canoe member Jason Tarkong said everyone in the va’a community is disheartened by the latest development and asked the community to call Crime Stoppers if they have any information about the theft.
“It is sad that the anchors are being stolen. Depriving someone of their property without permission is a crime. Theft of the equipment and materials required to conduct the va’a competition in races is despairing. The NMI va’a sport athletes, volunteers, and administrative personnel are disappointed at the criminals who did this.”
If you have any information on the stolen anchors contact, the CNMI Crime Stoppers tips line at 234-7272 (PARA) or *11 from any IT&E Cellular phone (Toll free from Tinian and Rota) to give your information. When you call the Crime Stoppers tips line, you do not need to give your name; we only want the information regarding a case. You can call Crime Stoppers if you have information on other illegal activities or crimes not listed on this page. Crime Stoppers will pay you up to $1,000 for information that leads to an arrest.