Stanley Ma got the call at 6:00 a.m. Friday morning.  His employees told him someone broke into a cargo van and smashed it into another car.

When he arrived at Top Value Auto in Wahiawa, the cops were already there and the suspect was passed out on the ground. 

“I try to argue with the cops that he’s guilty. He admitted to it, but they just said he’s kind of drunk. I asked the kid if he has the key and he said yes, he has a key,” Ma explained.

Ma said the cop told him because the suspect was drunk he didn’t know what he was talking about so he couldn’t arrest him.

At that point, Ma said the 22-year-old suspect gave him back the keys to the cargo van.

“That’s when I go, ‘hey, can we just arrest him now? There’s enough proof, so they finally arrested him.”

Ma was happy the police finally made the arrest but said enough is enough.

“What’s frustrating is if he never hand me the keys, he would’ve walked,” Ma said. “And he could’ve come back tonight and do it again…something’s got to be done. We’re too lenient on these criminals.”

HPU assistant professor in criminal justice and former judge Randal Lee said the maximum penalty for car theft is five years, but its rarely hande out.

“Generally, unless you have a substantial record or the crime is egregious in nature, most times nothing really happens to you,” Lee said. “A lot of times judges feel like its just a property crime, nobody got hurt. So I’ll put them on probation.”

Lee said stiffer penalties are the only way to prevent car theft.
So why aren’t harsher punishments handed out?

“The legislature is the body that imposes the particular penalties and it gives the courts the discretion,” Lee explained. “Perhaps if a legislators car was stolen or a judges car was stolen, we might see something happen, something different. But until that happens, it’s just a car.”

Lee added that most people don’t realize that car theft impacts all of us.

“Your insurance has to pay for a stolen car and the insurance company is going to now increase premiums to everyone on the island because it becomes high risk.  Although it’s not my car that’s stolen, it affects everyone in terms of the damage the cost.”

HPD arrest logs confirmed the 22-year-old suspect was arrested for theft.