HPD seeing increase in car thefts linked to leaving keys in cars

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Honolulu Police Department is warning about an increase in car thefts.

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According to HPD, in many cases, victims left their keys in the car, and thieves were able to swoop in and steal the car.

That is what happened last month to a woman at a gas station on Nuuanu Avenue. As she was filling up her tank, a man went right into her car. She tried to stop him, even as the car started to drive away.

“People are being complacent,” said Sgt. Chris Kim with Crimestoppers. “They’re leaving their keys in the vehicle while they’re pumping gas, or they’re running the store to grab a drink. They’re running the errands, but yet they’re leaving the keys in the vehicle. Thieves are taking advantage of this.”

Car theft is not just happening to people when they are out and about. Sgt. Kim said victims are being targeted in their own garage, or even at work.

“My worker, he got to the office and parked the car,” said David Fang, Maikai Construction General Manager. “He dropped the key by the front of office right next to the door, the front door. Then he went in for like 30 minutes when he [came] out, the car was gone. The key was missing.”

He said police found the car abandoned a few miles away.

“There’s at least ($2,000) or $3,000 worth of tools stolen,” said Fang. “The exhaust got cut off. The battery got stolen and as well.”

This is a costly mistake that Sgt. Kim says is preventable by people always keeping their keys with them, and keeping their car locked when they are not in it.

While it might be convenient to some, Sgt. Kim also recommends avoiding using a lockbox or trying to hide a spare key in or on your car because thieves know where to look.

“There are also other investments,” said Sgt. Kim. “You can get alarms, but also GPS tracking devices. In the event that [the car is] be able to get stolen, the police would be able to track all the vehicles via the GPS.”

However, there is a cheaper way to prevent this. Sgt. Kim said being alert and being cautious can help prevent anyone from becoming a victim.

“It’s a false sense of security that you think it’s not going to happen to you,” said Sgt. Kim. “But statistically it is. We’re showing an uptick in all this recently.”

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