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Security under fire at Honolulu’s airport following rash of car thefts

They're also calling for more user friendly upgrades to the state's largest airport.
Published: Jan. 16, 2022 at 6:01 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 17, 2022 at 4:58 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State lawmakers grilled airport officials over a recent rash of car thefts at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport and urged them to invest in more consumer-friendly upgrades at the airport.

During an informational briefing held by the state Senate’s Ways and Means and Transportation committees on Friday, Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, (D) Kalihi, criticized the security staffing levels at the airport.

“I’m also getting complaints about the lack of patrol, lack of security at airports, car break-ins, homeless at the baggage claim,” she said.

Victims said the thefts have been all too easy because the airport’s security cameras haven’t been working for years

“My understanding is the cameras weren’t functioning for some time ... I thought it was seven years,” said state Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, (D) Wahiawa and chair of the Ways and Means Committee.

“Why wait seven years?”

Ross Higashi, Deputy Director for the state Department of Transportation’s airports division responded:

“That’s a good question. I did get on the case of my engineers to get that rectified ... I did ask them to fix that for many years.”

Higashi said the cameras have since been fixed and thefts are now down. He added that the state increased patrols during the busy Christmas rush.

“We did pick up more or enforcement working during the holiday season knowing there were more cars in the parking lot,” he said.

“We also have plainclothes looking into that kind of somebody trying to burglarize a car.”

Lawmakers also criticized the design of the 95-year old airport, saying it’s not consumer friendly.

“While it’s great that you’re upgrading bathrooms and the other stuff along the way, it really is kind of like putting lipstick on a pig,” said state Sen. Chris Lee, (D) Kailua.

“Even walking from the garage to the terminal across this bridge -- they’re beautiful these bridges you just put in -- (but) they dead end right at an elevator where if you have more than two people and bags, you’re just sitting there waiting.”

Lee suggested using new federal money to upgrade the common areas at the airport. But the state said any major renovation also requires approval from the airlines.

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