Thievery in Waikiki

Though the iconic beach area is a top tourist destination and business hotspot, it also has an issue with crooks
Thievery in Waikiki

About 500 thefts were reported in Waikiki during the first quarter of 2023, according to the Honolulu Police Department. That is about 100 less than last year, during the same time period, and during the Covid-19 Pandemic, in 2020 and 2021, such reports also were low. But that same quarter, two years prior to the pandemic, showed thefts in the 600 to 700 range per quarter, meaning there might be some measure of improvement happening now.

Lower or not, such property crime still is a problem in Oahu’s primary tourist hub, HPD police officer Ryan Yamamoto acknowledged.

“With the amount of beachgoers, it’s not uncommon to have thefts from the beach,” Yamamoto said. “Many people bring their important, expensive belongings to the beach and leave them unattended to go swimming. … Our shoplifting thefts can range from those that are homeless to even visitors and locals. It can be from the high-end stores, like Louis Vuitton or Saks 5th Avenue to even the ABC stores.”

Those who live in the area have experienced thefts and break-ins resulting in valuables, including electronics, being taken.

Nathan Fontanilla-Lutu, for example, is a resident of Waikiki whose home was broken into in December.

“I was scared when I saw the window was broken, until I turned on all the lights, and ensured that no one was there,” Fontanilla-Lutu said. “I came home from a work event and found someone took my laptop, my Apple Watch, and a brand new iPad that was supposed to be a gift, among smaller things.”

The police did not help, Fontanilla-Lutu said.

“I was irritated that HPD didn’t really do anything, even though I gave a location on where it was because it was a secure location,” Fontanilla-Lutu said. “I feel like the police kind of left me waiting for most of the time, and it was more of me calling them to see what was going on. To this day, I’m still mad that whoever stole my belongings got away with it.”

Businesses also have been impacted by thefts in Waikiki.

“We’ve been impacted by people stealing quite a lot,” said Himeko Nakaya, who works the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center “Mostly people steal smaller stuff, but I’ve noticed that we’ve been having stuff that’s a little more expensive get stolen.”

Even when she’s not at work, Nakaya said that she has seen thefts taking place and felt powerless to stop them.

“I’ve witnessed it happening a lot on the streets, and I was stunned by what happened,” she said. “It’s usually the tourists, since they’re kind of unsuspecting, and since it’s crowded, they don’t see it coming. … I don’t think it’s been reported enough, but people are aware that it’s happening.”

Wendy Sakuma is a Hawaii resident and college student who frequents beaches in Waikiki. She also has been a victim of theft in the area.

“When I got my wallet stolen, the police and security were telling me how common it is for people to pick up dropped wallets and spend a bunch of money that would max out credit cards,” Sakuma said. “I think that the area is safe, but due to the amount of people, you have to watch out for yourself. There are police and security, but mostly in the areas by the police station and Duke statue, so you have to be careful on the side streets and near the Ala Wai.”

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    JuliaOct 10, 2023 at 12:12 pm

    10/10 article. Very informational and engaging. Maximum slay.