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Safety means being proactive —While you’re watching your back, watch your car

by Marygrace Barba

It’s easy to pity celebrities who are regularly stalked by irksome paparazzi and obsessive fans. But watch out for yourself, too, because nowadays there could be a stalker lurking behind the bushes watching you—or perhaps your car. Recently, HPU students who had driven to the North Shore to take a leisurely swim at some of O‘ahu’s most beautiful beaches returned to their cars to find them stripped of valuables.



“It’s a very common thing to have car break-ins in all the beaches of Hawai‘i,” according to Officer Angut of the Honolulu Police Department. And he provided some excellent advice about what one should do to avoid this everyday occurrence.

First, and most obvious, use common sense. That should tell you the very first thing to do when you leave your car is to lock its doors. Double check. As simple and easy as this sounds, it’s also easy to forget to do it. Don’t let a simple mistake be the reason your dashboard is now missing the $200 sound system you just installed.

Other tips on how to avoid car break-ins are to leave your valuables at home or have someone watch the car. An alarm system may be worth your money. However, if your car is parked far away, the criminal has enough time to run away with your valuables before he can be caught.

Remember, there is no guarantee! The best protection is to leave your valuables at home.

The type of car you’re driving may also determine how interested a criminal might be in burglarizing it, as well as how easy or difficult it is for a criminal to open it. The first targets on a criminal’s list are rental cars. Rental usually means tourists, and visitors to the island, reluctant to leave cash and valuables in a hotel room to which many people have keys and access, often haul around cameras, laptops, and jewelry. A rental company logo on the car you are driving absolutely screams, “Come and take the precious possessions I have for you!”

Fortunately, most rental cars these days do not carry the rental company’s logo. Whew! But be aware that foreign cars are also a top target because they can easily be broken into with a screwdriver.

For a criminal, it’s all about maximizing opportunity. As Officer Angut said, “They’re watching us as much as we’re watching them.” The paparazzi are out to make money off the celebrities they stalk, just as car burglars are out to make money out of drivers who are careless.

So take every precaution to avoid a future car break-in. You could save yourself a mere $10 or something more valuable, maybe even your family’s heirloom Hawaiian necklace—which you took off and left in the car so you wouldn’t risk losing it while swimming.


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