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Police using license plate readers to deter criminals hitting malls

HONOLULU (KHON2) - The holiday season is a time for giving, cheer, and crime. Honolulu Police say they saw a spike in thefts last year. So this year, they're doing more and helping you avoid becoming a victim.

Captain Gail Beckley says police will be patrolling shopping centers across the island at various times and days using automatic license plate readers. Currently, there are about 30 police vehicles that have these cameras, which scan the license plates of surrounding cars. 

"We know that criminals often break-in using stolen cars and stolen license plates. So we are hoping these automatic license plate readers will ID the culprits," said Captain Gail Beckley of HPD. 

Police say mall owners are being cooperative about this but the officers won't be patrolling on property.

"They are not going to be driving around in the parking lot but around the major malls," said Captain Beckley. "We are trying to catch them going in and out of the malls from the streets."

So far this year there have been 2.3 million hits from the license plate readers. Nearly 400 stolen vehicles were detected, about 570 stolen license plates, and 34 wanted vehicles. Officials are asking you to do your part as well to avoid vehicle break-ins. 

"Take out your vehicle title. Take out your bags. Anything that may look valuable, go and take them out," said Sgt. Chris Kim of CrimeStoppers. 

If you're out shopping, keep your wallet in front of you, not in your back pocket. Don't overload yourself with too many bags. 

When it comes to protecting your home, try to develop a trusting relationship with neighbors and look out for each other. Also be aware of solicitors.

"People may be walking about door-to-door asking for donations. They may be easily casing your place and seeing what type of things you may have," said Sgt. Kim. 

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