Vehicle theft is a big crime in Hawaii

Your car is more likely to be stolen in Hawaii than in New York.

According to statistics by FBI Crime Data Explorer, motor vehicle thefts went down in 2016, but cars are still stolen every day in Hawaii.

That’s what happened to Waipahu resident Keith Izawa.

“When my partner’s mom came home at about 11, that’s when she noticed that the truck was gone,” Izawa explained. “But she thought that I had parked over at our house, but actually it had been stolen.”

Izawa realized his truck was gone at 7:30 a.m. when he got to his mother-in-law’s house to pick up his son for school, and she told him his truck wasn’t here.

The white 2006 4WD Toyota Tundra double cab (license TFD 118) was stolen right out of their car port on Waipahu Street.

“They knew what they were doing,” Izawa said. “Very brazen as well cause there was people home the entire time.”

Izawa did capture the theft on video surveillance and it was quick.

“The angle wasn’t great, but you could vaguely make out someone coming on foot down the road, and then you could see the door open up, and then next thing you know, it’s backing up into the street,” he said. “From the time you see the door open up till you see it backing up is 10 or 15 seconds.”

Izawa isn’t alone.

“Car theft is a big problem in Hawaii,” said State Attorney General Douglas Chin. “It’s lower than it has been before, but really in comparison to violent crimes, that’s often the way that people end up being victimized is through that type of crime.”

According to statistics on the FBI Crime Data Explorer website, 5,549 cars were stolen in Hawaii in 2016, down from 5,779 the previous year.

Although there are some states in the U.S. with higher instances of car theft, Hawaii ranks higher than the national average.

There were 395 cars stolen for every 100,000 people in Hawaii in 2016 compared to 236 cars for every 100,000 people nationwide.

How often do people get their car back once it’s stolen?

“A lot of it depends upon the circumstances,” Chin said. “If there was an eye witness, or if there are finger prints, or if there is some sort of evidence then that’s a better likely hood. But unfortunately for the people who are victimized by car theft, sometimes they don’t see it again and that’s very sad.”

How often are car thieves caught and prosecuted?

“The biggest challenge in prosecuting a car theft has to be in identifying the person who was actually inside the vehicle or using it,” explained Chin. “We still have to do what detectives all throughout the decades have done, which is rely upon fingerprint evidence. Hopefully there’s an eye witness and so sometimes, we’re successful, other times, we’re not.”

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