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View Point

By Philip R. Pickering

Saturday, December 30, 2000

Tourists need to be
warned about thieves

ON Dec. 7, my family and I traveled to Hawaii for what was planned as a tri-commemoration: a vacation, wedding anniversary and marathon celebration. Instead, our trip became a lesson in the real meaning of the "aloha spirit."

You see, on our second day on Oahu, our rental car was broken into and many of our personal belongings were stolen from the trunk. This happened around 1 p.m. at Kaena Point on Dec. 8.

I have since learned that this parking lot is notorious for car break-ins and thefts. In fact, the day that we were robbed, the police had already been out to the same spot several times investigating similar thefts.

But get this: Despite the frequency of these crimes at Kaena Point, there are no signs warning people of this risk.

I am certain that two of the culprits were Filipino-Hawaiian males hanging around the parking lot. Witnesses saw them talking to about three or four other men in a second vehicle parked nearby.

In addition to our car being broken into, a couple from England had their rental car's window smashed and several items stolen. Fortunately, a family let us use their cellular phone to call the police, since ours was stolen.

Two German tourists provided information about the two cars used by the thieves -- a beat-up red pick-up truck and an old SUV, possibly white.

I thank the people who let us use their phone, and the other tourists, wherever they are, for being so helpful.

The real reason I am writing this letter, however, is to let everybody in Hawaii know this: You have a real problem with theft and nobody seems to care much about it.

Some local people told me, "Oh, you were really stupid to go out to Kaena Point with anything valuable in your possession. Everyone knows you'll get ripped off." If that's true, then post a sign out there and put a warning in every rental car!

We were at Kaena Point because we were told that albatrosses and whales could be seen from there. This is the same reason the British couple and the two Germans went there.

That leads me to another reason for writing: Not all the tourists who come to Hawaii want to play golf and shop. Some people are interested in natural beauty and in swimming in the ocean. Too bad visitors cannot do either without running the risk of being robbed.

My wife and I were married in Hawaii and this trip was also an anniversary celebration.

While some things that were stolen on our trip can easily be replaced (my wife's purse and wallet, my son's passport), my wife's wedding ring and the watch I just bought her for our anniversary cannot.

Neither can my formerly fond memories of Hawaii. I will never return to the islands.

I am sure my wife's wedding ring is in some pawnshop in Pearl City right now. The ring, which has a funny zigzag shape on the top of the band, also had three diamonds that my grandparents smuggled out of Germany while fleeing the start of World War II.

That ring, which my grandmother gave my mother, and mother gave my wife, can never be replaced.

The gold and silver Citizen watch, while not extremely expensive, was still my gift to my wife and therefore cannot be replaced either.

So, you see, I resent the chastising that I got from the "locals" for going to Kaena Point in the first place. I also resent the fact that I called the police station to report that the thieves tried to use our credit card in Nanakuli, but I have yet to hear any response from the police department.

One other tidbit: The other beach we went to while visiting your state was Kailua Beach Park. It was described as a "nice family place." However, I noticed after reading the "Crimestoppers" Web site that criminals seem to like to hang out there as well.

Where is the warning sign at that beach?

Philip R. Pickering lives in Berkeley, Calif.

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