Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Isles top nation
for thefts

Purse-snatchings and thefts
from stores and cars give Hawaii
its bleak crime record

» Crime prevention tips

By Nelson Daranciang

Hawaii had the highest larceny-theft crime rate among the 50 states in the year 2000 and the second-highest overall property crime rate, according to FBI figures.

The rankings, from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting program, will be included in the "Crime in Hawaii 2001" report from the state Department of Attorney General expected to be released later this summer.

The state's 2001 report will list the previous year's rankings because the 2001 crime rates for the rest of the states will not be available for comparison.

The state had a larceny-theft rate of 3,570 per 100,000 residents in 2000. Larceny-theft includes purse snatching, shoplifting and thefts from motor vehicles. Arizona was second with 3,441, and Oregon third with 3,339.

Hawaii's overall property crime rate was 4,955 per 100,000 residents, second only to Arizona's 5,298. Florida was third with 4,883.

"We knew it was increasing, but we didn't think we would be second," said Capt. Carlton Nishimura, Honolulu Police Department Criminal Investigation Division.

The FBI figures for Hawaii listed eight major categories of crime. The state's overall crime rate of 5,199 per 100,000 residents was the nation's sixth highest in 2000. However, Hawaii's violent crime rate was 244, the seventh lowest.

The City and County of Honolulu was home to 72 percent of the state's residents in 2000 and accounted for 74 percent of Hawaii's crimes in the eight categories, according to the FBI figures.

Nishimura said he believes one reason that the state's property crime rate was higher than the rest of the country in 2000 is because the economy here was weak while just about everywhere else it was strong.

"Unemployed people who have a drug problem need to substantiate their living through theft," he said.

Among the 12 states to experience a rise in their property crime rate from 1999 to 2000, Hawaii also had the highest percentage increase, at 7.7 percent.

Nishimura said overall property crimes on Oahu, which include burglary and motor vehicle theft, have continued to rise since 2000.

The state's county police departments have been meeting with other agencies, including the state Department of Public Safety and county prosecutors, to see what can be done about Hawaii's high property crime rates.

Nishimura said increasing treatment opportunities for drug offenders is a step in the right direction.

"Without increased prison space, it's just another spoke in the wheel that's broken. Everybody has to get together to combat this. It's not going to come just from police, prosecutors or Public Safety," he said.

According to the FBI figures for 2000, Hawaii's rates per 100,000 residents in the other major crime categories were: murder, 2.9; rape, 28.6; robbery, 92.7; aggravated assault, 119.7; burglary, 880.3; and motor vehicle theft, 504.6.



Crime prevention tips

Honolulu police offer these tips to decrease the chances of becoming a victim of property crime.

>> When going out for the day, take only what you need.

>> Lock valuables in the hotel room safe or leave them at home.

>> Always lock your car.

>> Park in well-lit areas close to stores or other areas that are visible.

>> If you have a car alarm, be sure that the warning light is visible.

>> Do not leave bags exposed in your car.

>> Do not leave valuables in the trunk.

>> If you must lock items in the trunk, do it before you reach your destination; people are watching.

>> Have your local police do a security check of your home.

>> Leave at least one light on inside and outside when you are not home, and use a timer when you are away on trips.

>> Buy high-quality deadbolts and use them.

E-mail to City Desk


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