HONOLULU(KHON2) — Car theft–it’s an unfortunate crime happening to thousands of people every year here in Hawaii. But what do you do if it happens to you? And how likely is it you’ll actually get your car back? KHON contacted HPD to get some tips and information to answer those questions and more regarding car theft.

Imagine you’re headed to the beach or even home after a long day at work. You park your car and go about your business only to come back and find your car gone.

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That’s exactly what happened to Waialua resident Jake England.

“I was surfing at this kind of the secret spot on the North Shore,” he said. “I just surfed for a couple hours, came back in and there was just nothing there. I was just standing on the side of a road with no vehicle there. And eventually, some other guys pulled up to go out and surf. And they let me use their phone to call the police.”

England is not alone.

According to the Honolulu Police Department, there were at least 3,200 car thefts reported in 2021 and over 2,300 so far this year.

But HPD said 75% to 80% of stolen vehicles are recovered.

Although they may not be in the same condition they were in when they were stolen, as England found out when police called to tell him they found his car.

“When I finally got to the tow lot where it was towed to, it was just, essentially ashes,” he said. “It was just sheet metal, burnt sheet metal, I mean it, they burned it really pretty good.”

So what should you do if your car is stolen?
• Call the police immediately and make a police report
• Contact your vehicle insurance company
• If the garage remote was in the car reprogram it so the thieves can’t get into your home.
• If the car keys or your house keys were in the car, rekey all your locks.
• If you have GPS tracking in the car, they might be able to locate the car or in some cases, remotely slow or stop it.

Another tip: you want to make sure your car insurance will cover it if it’s stolen according to Michael Mishima, DTRIC Insurance Vice President of claims.

“First of all, they will need comprehensive or other than collision coverage, to have any kind of compensation,” Mishima explained. “So if they don’t have that type of coverage on their policy, then they’re basically out of luck.”

England said he did have full coverage because he had just paid off his vehicle before it was taken.

“But at the end of the day, I’m still going to lose and be out,” England said.

According to Mishima, insurance only pays the Blue Book value of the car, which is often less than what the owner paid for it initially. But he said getting something back is better than nothing.

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Here are some helpful tips to prevent your vehicle from being stolen:
• Lock your vehicle, even at home.
• Don’t leave valuables in the vehicle in plain sight.
• Don’t leave the vehicle unlocked with the engine running while you go into an establishment; take a spare/valet key and lock the vehicle.
• Park in well-lit areas.