City & County of Honolulu

Car thefts up 49%
on Oahu

HPD focuses more on individual
criminals than individual crimes
because of repeat offenders

By Rod Antone

Auto theft soared nearly 50 percent on Oahu in the first seven months of the year compared with the same period last year, according to Honolulu police statistics.

From January to July there have been 4,678 vehicles stolen -- up from 3,138 auto thefts for the same time in 2001. Already this year, the seven-month total for auto theft surpasses the total for all of 1999, which had 3,997 cases reported.

The biggest spike this year was in May when more than 800 vehicles were stolen. Hondas were the most popular cars among car thieves for the seven months, according to police.

"There is a definite increase in auto thefts, and we're doing our best to contain it," said acting Maj. Alan Arita. "Some of it is joy riding; others take them to chop shops. In a lot of cases it's the same people stealing cars over and over again."

For that reason, Arita said, the Honolulu Police Department is concentrating more on individual criminals rather than individual crimes.

HPD activated its career criminal unit earlier this year to combat the problem. The unit consists of six detectives and officers from theft, gang detail and robbery divisions and focuses on certain suspects.

Warren K. White Jr.: He is wanted by police for questioning and is considered dangerous.

Arita said that topping HPD's most-wanted list of alleged auto thieves is Warren K. White Jr., who was featured on a CrimeStoppers news release earlier this week. White is wanted in questioning for auto theft cases in Honolulu and should be considered dangerous, according to HPD.

"He's No. 1 out of about nine guys we're looking at," said Arita. "We consider them to be the most active."

Other police investigators said part of the spike in auto thefts can be attributed partially to more than a dozen thefts of Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

There was a total of 5,597 auto thefts for 2001, up 7 percent from 5,214 auto thefts in 2000.

Last month, the FBI ranked Hawaii as having the second-highest overall property crime rate and the highest larceny-theft rate among the 50 states in 2001. Larceny-thefts include shoplifting, purse snatching and thefts from vehicles.

Increases in both categories helped push Hawaii's overall crime rate last year up three spots to the nation's third highest, despite having the ninth-lowest violent crime rate.

"There's a couple of crime series right now -- organized auto theft rings -- that we have identified that we are working on," said Detective Bruce Swann. "What we're finding is that a majority of the auto theft arrests that we are making now, the vehicles are being used to commit other crimes ... burglaries, break-in to other cars ... There are a lot of related crimes."

As far as which locations on Oahu are being targeted by auto thieves, Arita said it is hard to tell. "There's really no one location where it's happening," he said. "It's pretty much spread out."

White is wanted for two domestic violence warrants and a traffic warrant, and has a previous weapons conviction, according to police.

White is described as 5 feet 6 inches tall, 145 pounds, with a medium build, black hair and brown eyes. Anyone with information about White's whereabouts may call Detective Ken Higa directly at 529-3059.

Anonymous calls may also be made to CrimeStoppers at 955-8300 or *CRIME on a cellular phone.

Honolulu Police Department

City & County of Honolulu

E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --