Alarming spike in car thefts at Honolulu airport’s parking garage prompts security questions

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Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 5:35 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 21, 2021 at 11:06 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There has been a spike in car thefts at Honolulu’s airport with a particular increase in vehicles used by car sharing companies like Turo.

In just one week, seven cars were stolen from the garage.

And five of those were being rented out to visitors.

The Turo cars are mixed in with the residents’ vehicles. But one thing makes them stand out: Many have lock boxes.

Lock boxes are used by Turo hosts at HNL's garage
Lock boxes are used by Turo hosts at HNL's garage(None)

Those allow hosts to leave the car and allow the tourists to get on their way shortly after landing.

But thieves are able to break the boxes and access the keys.

Shawn Frazzini, a Turo host, usually meets his clients in person to hand over the keys. But on July 9, he had appointments so he left his white Lexus in the garage with a lock box and instructed the visitors where to go.

“When they went to where I instructed them that the car was parked, the car was no longer there,” Frazzini said.

Days later, a Honolulu Police detective notified him that his Lexus was found.

But it was not driveable.

The Lexus was trashed, smashed on the outside, torn apart on the inside. It was on blocks because the tires had been stolen, parts were also taken and the license plates were switched.

When Frazzini tried to get answers from the state Department of Transportation and the airport security company in charge of the garage, he was shocked to learn about the surveillance system.

“They told me their cameras were not operational at the time,” he said. And the detective told him that response was common.

“It’s just really disappointing that you’re paying over $20 a day if you’re parking there and it’s just a false sense of security,” said Frazzini.

“You think your car is safe but it’s definitely not safe.”

In addition to lockboxes, there are other ways thieves spot Turo or other car sharing vehicles.

They typically have parking tickets left on the dashboard. And sometimes, the car doors are left unlocked with the key under the seat or in the center console.

In a statement to Hawaii News Now, a spokesman for the Transportation Department said:

“State sheriffs and airport security have increased patrols of the three parking garages at HNL during this busy travel season.”

But the spokesman would not comment about the condition of the surveillance system.

With the shortage of rental cars and the mass influx of tourists, more are turning to Turo to get around. But as more residents seize on the opportunity to cash in, so do thieves.

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