Loose lug nuts plague drivers in Hawaii Kai

Local News

It’s either a dangerous prank or a new twist to an old scam.

Drivers are pulling out of a Hawaii Kai parking lot and discovering that one of their wheels is loose and ready to come off.

It’s happened multiple times just in the past few days. KHON2 spoke with a victim who’s wheel came off as he was pulling out of the parking space. He considers himself lucky.

“As soon as I turned the wheel to straighten it the whole truck just kind of leaned over and fell,” said Nathaniel Balangitao.

He had parked his truck at the Hawaii Kai Towne Center Saturday afternoon around 12:30. He and his girlfriend jumped back in 15 minutes later when the steering wheel started to wobble and the front driver’s side tire came off as they reversed out of the parking space.

“I think they intentionally took off all six because when the tire came off I couldn’t find any of the lug nuts,” said Balangitao.

That’s right! All six lug nuts had been taken off. When the tow truck arrived, the driver told him this isn’t the first time.

“There were two incidents in the same parking lot on Halloween night and later on that day, I was the third case like this from that parking lot,” said Balangitao.

So two on Thursday and three on Saturday, all in the same lot. A mechanic in the area says it sounds like a scam where the culprits would come up and offer to fix your car on the spot.

“Somebody would approach them obviously for a dollar amount to have the tire put back on or if anything got damaged to help to repair,” said Keoki Torres, owner of Kt’s Auto Repair.

He says there are lug nuts that can be locked so you need a key to loosen them. It’s also not a bad idea to check them before driving off. Balangitao spent hundreds of dollars getting his truck fixed. But he’s thankful the wheel didn’t come off when he was on the freeway.

“We would have gotten killed, we could have ended up killing somebody else. It could have been really bad,” he said.

The property manager at Hawaii Kai Towne Center says he’s asked HPD to increase patrol in the complex. He’s also notified other shopping centers in the area. HPD says the investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made.

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