A warning for business owners who use lockboxes to store spare keys.
HPD says thieves are stealing them and using the key to get inside and steal cash and other valuables.
Some business owners have found out the hard way that it’s a bad idea to use them. In most cases, police say the thieves stole the lock box and came back a few hours later to get inside.
Surveillance video inside Paina Cafe at the Koko Marina Shopping Center shows two masked men searching behind the counter. The business owner says they first came around 8:30 Friday night when the store was already closed and took the lockbox.
“They came back a little after midnight, broke into our store, entered our store and from there, they stole some items from us,” said Derek Uyehara, one of the owners of Paina Café.
Next door at Teddy’s Bigger Burgers, a similar incident. The manager says thieves also used the spare key by stealing the lockbox, but they might have been spooked by the alarm so they were not able to steal anything.
Business owners have been using lockboxes for years to allow others to open the door during off hours.
“Sometimes we’ll have pest control come in late at night. We don’t give a lot of people access to it but it’s for specific companies that can come in while we’re not in,” said Uyehara.
Honolulu Crimestoppers says 15 businesses have been burglarized by thieves stealing lockboxes in just the past three weeks. Eleven of them in East Oahu and four downtown.
“The criminals are stealing the lock boxes, smashing them, removing the spare keys and essentially making entry to the business via the keys,” said Sgt. Chris Kim of Honolulu Crimestoppers.
Four years ago, thieves were stealing cars from drivers who leave their spare keys in lockboxes outside the vehicle. It seems thieves are now doing the same thing with businesses and homes. Kim says it’s a bad idea to leave spare keys in them.
“Consider leaving them with an employee or even having to change your delivery times to have the deliveries made while an employee is there,” said Kim.
He says businesses should also take other precautions like investing in high quality surveillance cameras, installing good lighting, and avoiding clutter in entryways.
The two businesses say they plan to stop using lockboxes. Anyone with information on the burglaries is asked to call Crimestoppers at 955-8300.