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Violent crime in Hawaii has gone down in the past year. That's the good news. The bad news is that Motor Vehicle theft has increased over 30%! In the year 2000, Hawaii was ranked 2nd highest in the nation when it came to property crime per 100,000 people.  We also ranked 8th highest in vehicle theft.  Why can't we rank that high in SAT's or reading comprehension?

The #1 car stolen in Hawaii?  The Toyota Camry... with Honda Accords trailing close behind. Let's get down to the core of the problem. Why do people break into cars?

They fall into 3 categories:

Car thieves share some common characteristics. They are overwhelmingly male.  They fall into 3 distinct categories.

1) The Chronic - Substance abuse (ice ice baby) can make a person steal anything that isn't strapped down. Drug problems are the prime motivator behind more than 70% of Motor Vehicle break ins today. This type of criminal is wildly unpredictable and reckless, and can resort to extreme and dangerous behavior if confronted. The Chronic works alone and does not often have a companion to back him up (more money for him!). Usually the Chronic is looking for the easy score, or the path of least resistance - He's looking to steal what is IN the car, not the car itself. He's looking to pawn anything he gets for drugs.  He uses no finesse or fancy tools (he can't afford em, he keeps sticking all his money up his nose) and will strike cars that are left open (opportunistic) or use the smash and grab technique (bust a window).  The Chronic can never be stereotyped by age, as addiction can hit any generation.  Female car thieves (rare in Hawaii) most likely fall into the CHRONICS category. See also Whitney Houston.

2) The Punk - Sometimes kids have nothing better to do, especially during the summer months when there is nothing to do.  They'll steal a car just because it's there. They fancy themselves as 'bad ass car thieves' but their technique often tells the amateur status of these losers.  The 'punched lock' is the sure sign of a 'Punk', and the target vehicle is very prone to a great amount of sloppy physical damage. Property theft to the Punk comes secondary to joyriding around in the car itself, unless the Punk sees something he likes inside the vehicle. Like animals, the Punk will do whatever he can to 'mark his territory' by doing his best to vandalize/trash/destroy the vehicle. He/She may even go as far as torching the car when finished with it. He is most likely 25 years old or younger with the mentality of a 10 year old. If confronted, the Punk will most likely run or fight to get away. He is not looking for a confrontation or money - just excitement. See also Bart Simpson.

3) The Career Criminal - Ripping you off is just another days work to this professional career criminal.  He knows all the tricks of the trade and has targeted your car long before he has seen it.  He has a shopping list of car types or car parts and is usually not interested at all in the contents of the car.  He has all the right tools and can usually get into your car easier than you can with your key.  He will do all he can to preserve the car by limiting the physical damage to the vehicle.  After all, damaged goods are hard to sell.  You will be hard pressed to catch the professional in the act, as his gameplan is to be in and Gone in Sixty Seconds (isn't that a movie?).  His day job, if he even has one, is closely connected with the auto industry (repo man, mechanic, installer). See also Bill Gates.

What can be done to safeguard your vehicle from these three types of hoodlums?  Remember that game 'Screw your neighbor?'.  That's the goal... Make your car harder to break into so he'll go on to the next one.  Here are a few easy steps to follow that will greatly improve the chances that the crooks will pass your car by and hit the next one.

1) Avoid loading up your car with visible high ticket devices.  The Punk will salivate over your new in dash DVD player and will be looking good with your tachometer hooked up to his car.  Cars with expensive  accessories are five times more likely to get hit by vehicle theft.

2) Hide all visible money, shopping bags, and equipment in the trunk or under the seat.  Hide all keys out of sight - even if they aren't the car keys.  And don't leave the keys in the ignition or the car running - even if you are going to just be a few seconds.  We hear so many stories about the person who sticks his/her head into a doorway and turns around to see some bum driving off in their car.  AND PLEASE NEVER LEAVE YOUR CHILD UNATTENDED IN A RUNNING CAR!  Be safe, not sorry.

3) 'Deterrent' is the word of the day. A flashing LED light shows that your vehicle is protected by a car alarm. Stickers from Security Companies do the same thing.  A car alarm's purpose is not to make your vehicle 100% impenetrable.  Nor is it meant to be impossible to disarm.  'The Club' can be defeated quite easily. These items are just deterrents that makes your car harder to break in to than the next one.  Anything you can do to make the car thief think twice.

4) Park in well lit areas.  Make sure your garage/home has motion detector lights installed.  Thieves, like roaches, love the dark.

NOT SO COMMON ACTUAL SOLUTIONS TO CAR THEFT - Some ideas that others have come up with
People who can't afford a car alarm may or may not want to use the following quick unconventional (sometimes funny) tricks:
1) Install a secret switch which disables the car.
2) Remove a vital engine part every time you leave the car.
3) The old 'carpet tacks on the seat' trick. Gets em standing all the time!
4) Turn up your radio volume all the way, so the thief gets a nasty surprise once he starts the car.  You will also be alerted if you are close enough to hear it.
5) Velcro a tarp to the windshield of your car parked in your driveway at night so you can hear a burglar removing it.
6) Place fake dog poo all over the seats.
7) I had a friend who installed razor blades behind his stereo unit.  One day, an unwitting thief fell into his evil trap and left behind a nice blood trail and some pretty good DNA evidence.  Can you say old style justice?

Read here how some South Africans are installing flamer thrower units as anti-theft/anti-carjacking devices.  Harsh!

Vehicle theft in Hawaii isn't going anywhere.  Decide for yourself what protection your vehicle needs - but please have some kind of deterrent.  You don't know how much of a hassle it is when someone steals your car until it happens to you.