Increase in car thefts at Honolulu airport largely due to car sharing

·3 min read

Jul. 24—The number of auto thefts at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport has significantly increased in the past few months, mostly due to the prevalence of person-to-person rental vehicles being left in the parking lot, according to state Department of Transportation officials.

The amount of stolen cars at the airport grew from four in May to seven in June and 14 so far in July.

Sheriff Airport Section Commander Lt. Bryan Marciel attributed the high number of stolen cars to a rise in car sharing, where people can rent their vehicles to others through apps such as Turo.

"We strongly advise the owners of these rental vehicles to lock their vehicles, " he said.

"Don't leave the keys inside or don't leave them in these lockboxes that we've seen on these vehicles. These thieves are easily defeating these lockboxes, gaining access to the key and then going and jumping in your car and driving it away."

Those who rent their vehicles will often leave the car unlocked for the renter to enter the vehicle, or they will attach a lockbox to the vehicle with the key inside.

Of the seven stolen vehicles in June, four were car-sharing vehicles. Of the 14 stolen in July, 13 were car-sharing vehicles.

State Department of Transportation Deputy Director for Airports Ross Higashi said there will be increased security to help deter the criminal activity.

"We have ramped up security with our private security company, Allied Universal Services, along with our sheriff's division, " he said.

"There is more awareness of the situation, and they can be seen here at the airport."

However, both Marciel and Higashi urged people to stop conducting their car-sharing business at the airport because it is illegal. State law prohibits people from conducting business on airport property without a proper permit.

"If they're conducting business here, such as peer-to-peer car sharing, that's considered a business, "

Higashi said.

"So they should not be leaving their cars here for that purpose."

Those in violation of the statutes could be charged with a misdemeanor and fined up to $500 or subject to a traffic infraction.

Higashi explained that one of the easiest ways to spot a car-sharing vehicle at the airport is if the airport parking ticket is placed on the dashboard. The owner of the vehicle will leave the parking ticket for the renter, and the renter will simply pay the fee on the way out of the lot.

However, Higashi and Marciel said the only way to actually enforce the rules regarding car sharing in the airport is to catch someone in the act, which is difficult.

That's why Marciel encouraged vehicle owners to take responsibility for their car's security.

"I would suggest that they do these transactions in person off of airport property, " he said.

"If you leave your car parked anywhere unlocked with the keys inside, there is a chance that you risk having it stolen."

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