Thieves ripping off car batteries

Car break-ins are common across the state.

Some Oahu businesses are dealing with a new crime trend.

KHON2 has learned thieves are targeting them for a certain car part.

“It sounds like criminals are getting pretty creative these days,” KHON2 asked.

“They’ll do whatever it takes. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the day,” said Steve Endo of Jack Endo Electric.

Endo has been hit with a certain type of theft, at least 10 times in the past couple of months.

“Seems like they case the area regularly,” he said.

Thieves are stealing the batteries from the dumptrucks and flatbeds at his family’s business.

“For the battery thefts, we actually had to buy special master locks with different types of clasps, where it’s more preventative where thieves can’t cut them with bolt cutters,” he said.

Sometimes the trucks are left at job sites, which is where the criminals are ripping them off. He says this theft is increasing among contractors who do the same.

“Why would someone steal batteries?” KHON2 asked.

“People steal batteries because there is a value to them,” said Bill Ogawa of Battery Bill’s.

Even though this used battery has no power, it still has value because it’s made out of lead. Lead isn’t as valuable as copper, but something like this could get you about $10 if you tried to sell it.

“So it doesn’t matter whether it’s a little battery, or a battery for a locomotive, it’s all the same. It breaks down by the pound,” Ogawa said.

While some companies may buy used car batteries, Ogawa does not.

“I buy them from distributors, people who I know where the batteries are coming from. I don’t buy from people off the street,” Ogawa said.

Ogawa has also been hit. He used to keep some of his used batteries outside behind a locked gate. But after being ripped off night after night, his employees began storing the batteries in the warehouse. As for Endo, he’s thinking about his next step. He says the surveillance cameras at his company are not scaring off the criminals.

“Kinda angry but at the same time you feel helpless,” Endo said.

He says it can cost up to $200 to replace one battery. So that’s about $2,000 to replace the stolen batteries from his vehicles.

KHON2 asked Honolulu police how businesses can protect themselves from car battery thefts. They say park vehicles inside a secured warehouse. Park next to an area that has good lighting and operating surveillance cameras. Be vigilant. If the budget allows, hire a security guard or monitor vehicles every few hours.

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