Motor Vehicle Theft

About Motor Vehicle Theft

Someone steals a car (or truck). It happens once or twice a month in hour neighborhood, usually at night.

Who, Why, and How?

Some car thieves just want a car to drive around for fun (joy ride), or to use in some other crime. More often, cars are stolen by "professional" gangs, who prefer specific makes & models of cars to strip for parts.

Car thieves often work in pairs: one person drives to the site, and it's the passenger who gets out, breaks into, and steals the new car.

Almost always happens in the middle of the night. You will probably not know your car has been stolen until you go to drive it to work the next morning.

Strange but true: car thieves often use a previously-stolen vehicle to drive to where they steal another car. Sometimes, they'll swap an old stolen car for the new one, abandoning the old car within a few blocks of where the new one was taken.

The title of the movie "Gone in Sixty Seconds" (Nicholas Cage, 2000) says all you need to know about how fast a thief can enter a car using a "slim jim", disable the ignition lock, and drive it away.

What car dealers and car alarm shops might not tell you: some car alarms can be disabled by car thieves familiar with that model of car. Although it the alarm will still slow them down a bit. Steering wheel locking devices (thieves have to unbolt the steering wheel) usually slow them down much more.

Some makes and models of cars attract car thieves more than others. Which models they like varies from time to time, but Hondas (particularly older Civics and Accords) and Acuras are always popular. Full-sized Ford trucks seem to be targeted more often than other trucks.

What to do when your car is stolen?

Call 911 and report it to the police. Then call your insurance company.

Do not expect your car to recovered quickly. At least 70% of all cars stolen around Honolulu are recovered sooner or later, but always at least partly trashed and stripped, and requiring at least $500 worth of repairs. Sometimes so much repair that the your insurance company may just consider it a "total loss".


Lock and alarm cars and trucks at night. Park in your carport if possible (your vehicle is easier to steal if parked on the street).

Having an alarm is good. However, experienced car thieves know how to disable some types of alarms (or at least how to disconnect the horn so it won't sound). New cars usually have good alarms with an ignition shutoff. If you buy an alarm for an older car, be sure to it will have an ignition shutoff or a "hidden switch" (for the ignition or entire electrical system) as well.

[Newer cars also have very sophisticated ignition key code technologies, but those don't matter to most car thieves, who usually just break the ignition lock.]

If your car model is popular among car thieves, use "The Club" or other steering wheel locking device in addition to an alarm.

Even in combination, all those things will guarantee that your car cannot be stolen. But they will slow thieves considerably, making it more likely they'll be caught "in the act" if they try to steal your car, and that can discourage them from trying stealing your car in the first place.