HONOLULU (KHON2) — Transportation officials and a theft victim are warning the public not to put their keys in a lock box if they plan to park at Honolulu’s airport.

The victim said her vehicle was stolen just hours after she left Oahu.

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Hotavia G. Porter dropped off her red Chevy at the airport around 3 p.m. on Wednesday, May 24 to be picked up by her sister. Porter was heading to American Samoa as her sister flew to Oahu from the mainland.

“So, we figured, ‘It’s only a couple of hours, right?’ And her, she’s arriving there about 6, 7 p.m.,” Porter said. “She collected her bags, went to go check on where we said, you know, I took the picture of it and said, ‘This is it,’ and she said, ‘It’s not there!'”

According to the Department of Public Safety, a vehicle theft occurred at 6 p.m. — it is the sixth vehicle theft case at the airport in 2023.

Porter told KHON2 that she left her parking ticket in the car and locked the key in an external lock box, which is something the Transportation Department does not recommend.

“And those lock boxes aren’t as durable as you may think,” said DOT spokesman Jai Cunningham. “Simple hammer can take them apart pretty quickly. If there is a key in there and [you take] a hammer to it, then you’ve got the key. You’ve got access to that car.”

Those who work in security said businesses with lock boxes have recently seen an uptick in burglaries as well.

“It’s an easy way into a business,” said Security Alarm Shop CEO Jim Harrow. “And if a business doesn’t have an alarm, they don’t have to break and enter. They can use the actual key to get into the shop and pretty much steal at will.”

Officials said travelers should keep their parking ticket on them while traveling — or at least hide it out of plain view in the car — to deter thieves. There is no identification check at the gate.

“So, if the ticket is in the car and it happens to get stolen, if the person has the ticket, then it’s just they have to literally pay the parking fee to get out,” Cunningham said.

Porter said all of this has been a learning experience, and she will handle her business differently at the airport in the future.

“Be vigilant and be alert and, you know, don’t take these risks if it is unnecessary,” Porter said. “Yeah, probably not going to do this ever again. You know, I will leave my car at home and tell my sister, ‘You can find your way, you know, home.’

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According the Department of Public Safety, a second-degree theft case was opened; and the investigation is ongoing.