Paradise is not immune to “bad guy” doings.
Everyone hates to learn a lesson the hard way. So let me be that person for you, since I just went through a car break in, losing all my personal information, along with tons of electronics, etc. – and you can learn from my lesson. I’m “local” and let my guard down, not realizing that most of my Hawaiian friends have made rip-off avoidance’ a life long habit that has served them well. And it’s not like they didn’t warn me and give me advice! They did. Good advice. But I, just l like most tourists, filled up the car for a full day’s outing, trying to be prepared for all possibilities. Such is when you are most vulnerable to how the crooks here work. They set themselves up at places on the North Shore – even busy places, or Makapu’u lighthouse (it has a long reputation of break-ins), or even shopping center parking lots (Ward Center comes to mind). They know all the basic rental car models. They know you have stuff with you. They expect tourists to have stuff. They might even see you safely’ put your valuables in the trunk. They might hit you there, or they might follow you to your next stop. They’ll hit a local when you broadcast your belongings in plain sight. Usually they break a window. The other approach (that happened to us), they saw us set up on the beach. They picked up our stuff – including the key – went to the parking lot, found the car, cleared it out and then took off with the key to keep us stranded longer so they’d have more time to use our credit cards. We were lucky they didn’t take the car too!
This has been a difficult recovery process, and I live here and have back up resources. So let’s take steps to keep it from happening to you when you visit. We want you to love Hawaii 100%…. which is hard if you’ve lost x% of your stuff.
I have to believe that leaving your stuff in a hotel room is safer than leaving it in your car.
Don’t pick a showy rental car. Pick a color that will most blend in with all the rest. (Makes it harder to follow). Try to get a trunk. If you keep the body of the car stripped clean of touristy items…. Maps, water bottles, souvenirs, sunscreen, then you look less likely to have valuables in your trunk. Your car won’t attract attention. Don’t ever put something in your trunk where you think you could be watched. I read that if you put a camera in the trunk, go to your spot, do what ever, swim, etc, and then come back and get the camera out and take pictures as the last thing you do before moving on.
Make a copy of your passport, driver’s license, credit cards, phone company telephone number and insurance info. Keep that paper, plus one credit card, plus $20- $40 dollars in a water tight bag and keep it with you at all times. Only have one key, and also keep it in on your person, even when swimming. (Keep electronic keys in a dry bag so they don’t get wet.) Leave everything else in the hotel room. One friend even keeps his towels in the car and then buries his slippers in the sand when he’s out surfing. (nice slippers always get picked up’). And keep bus money on you too. Luckily, no matter where you get stranded (unless up in the mountains) you can get back to home base on the bus. That’s what I did.
This is a long post, I know. But I don’t want your North Shore experience to feel like a crashing wave when it should be like this:
Posted by: Bruce Fisher on Oct 21, 2010