HONOLULU (KHON2) — Tourism is a driving force for Hawaii’s economy.
But a visitor’s group says it’s seen more crime against tourists in the last week than it has in a long time. The Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii, or VASH, tells us on Sunday it assisted with two separate cases where tourists were robbed at gunpoint.
Police say two men with handguns stole from a group of people at a bus stop in Kailua and took off. On the same day, VASH tells us a military man was visiting the Arizona Memorial with his family when he was robbed.
“He saw people basically stealing items from cars and when he went over to them they pulled a gun at him and threatened him and it just wasn’t worth it, so he was also robbed,” said Jessica Lani Rich, preside of VASH.
Visitors we spoke to agree it’s easy to let their guard down when in Hawaii.
“You just assume with the military presence or the fact that it’s big tourist market that these areas are covered,” said Chris Graham of Florida. “I imagine Hawaii, I just assumed, I didn’t think you guys have crime.”
“When a visitor is a victim of a crime the first thing they think is I want to leave the island immediately and I never want to come back and what we like to do at VASH is a step in and say hey we care,” said Rich.
VASH says it’s not a good message but says the robberies over Veterans Day weekend are isolated incidents. Honolulu Police say they have not seen an increase in crime against tourists but know they can be easy targets.
“Tourists make great victims worldwide, especially for property crime. They are here on vacation. They don’t have a care in the world,” said Deputy Chief John McCarthy. “Hawaii is still a safe place for everyone but be cognizant of your surroundings.”
And many are also doing their part to protect themselves.
“I don’t have any jewelry on and I didn’t bring my designer bag with me,” said Nancy Rad of California.
“Yeah, we don’t want to show off,” said her husband Mo.