Thief picks up car's keys and speeds away


POSTED: Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A 23-year-old Kalihi man wearing pocketless basketball shorts set some car keys on a shelf while checking out car stereo equipment at the Pearl City Walmart early Friday morning.

Bye-bye, 1997 BMW 328i.

“;The next thing you know, it was gone,”; said Justin, who asked his last name not be published.

When he noticed the car missing from its stall, he called police immediately.

A Walmart official told him video surveillance showed the car's headlights flashing while the suspect used the electronic button to hunt for it in the parking lot.

But the worst part is the car wasn't his.

“;It's a really sad story,”; Justin said. “;Especially since it happened right around Christmastime.”;

His fiancee's 16-year-old brother, Reymart Balino, recently bought the car and allowed him to borrow it.





        Honolulu police tips to prevent auto theft and break-ins this holiday season and to minimize the harm:

» Use a car alarm if your car is equipped with one.
        » Park near the store entrance if possible.
        » If you can't hide valuables in the trunk, cover them with something like a blanket.
        » Do not leave the title to a car inside the car.




As if to add insult to injury, Balino, waiting to be picked up from his job at Taco Bell, saw his car drive by—apparently with the thief at the wheel.

“;I thought it was Justin picking us up,”; he said.

Instead, Balino said, the car headed for the H-1 freeway town-bound onramp.

Police Auto Theft Detail Lt. James Strickland said the crime is uncommon since it's one of opportunity.

But he urges people to keep their house and car keys separate since the car registration usually has a home address. He suggests changing the house locks if both sets are stolen.

Balino said he's “;sad and depressed at the same time”; because he had just finished the paperwork on the car, bought for family errands.

“;The family's from Kalihi,”; said Justin. “;We're not rich people.”;

Hoping for a Christmas miracle, Justin has been passing out flyers and combing the streets. He said the silver car has damage to the right passenger side, a spoiler on the front bumper, and a Philippine flag sticker on the rear-view mirror. The license number is JVR 363.

Anyone with information on the car is asked to call 911.