College athletes from University of Hawaii lose equipment, passports in smash and grab

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- Pieces of shattered glass at a public parking lot along Hamilton Avenue mark the spot two University of Hawaii team vans were broken into.

The team is in the Bay Area for the NCAA Women's Water Polo Championship at Stanford University.

The auto burglary happened Wednesday night, between 7:45 p.m. and 8:40 p.m. The team was only blocks away, having dinner at Wahlburgers.

The team returned to broken glass, their bags gone.

"All their equipment, passports for the international players, the coaches' computers, the players' computers, their media person's cameras, everything," Ellygra DiLalla said.

Her daughter, Molly, is the goal-keeper for the traveling team.

Ellygra says timing couldn't be worse It's the end of a successful season and the end of a busy school year.

"They're students, so they had their schoolwork in there, they're taking finals on the road," DiLalla added. "So now, they're not just out with their equipment for the game, they're out school stuff that they need to complete their finals."

University of Hawaii's Athletic Director, David Matlin, estimates between $5,000 to $10,000 equipment and belongings were boosted from the team vans.

"The other thing that concerns us, besides the actual stuff that we lost, is the passports," he said. "So, we're obviously trying to scramble to make sure that some of our student athletes will be able to return home."

"The good thing is no one got hurt," he continued. "I mean, this could be so much worse. These are things that are all replaceable, and we'll work and help what we can do to try and replace it."

The university provided this link to those who would like to donate to the team.

Palo Alto police say they are investigating the theft. They've explained the process will take some time because of the number of victims-- between 15 and 20 people.

The police department is also reminding people to hide valuables, roll up windows and lock car doors. Auto burglaries are a problem across the Bay Area.

A manager of a nearby business told ABC7 News an employee had their car broken into the same night, at the same lot.

"It's horribly distressing. It's so horrible and sad that this would happen," DiLalla said. "These girls have worked so hard."

Stanford University provided the team with caps, whistles and other equipment needed for practice on Thursday.

Someone from the University of Hawaii is flying out with team caps and suits, ahead of Friday's match.
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