County Sees 41% Increase in Stolen Cars This Year | News, Sports, Jobs
WAILUKU — When Jennifer Driggers’ car was stolen from the parking lot outside her apartment in Wailuku, she called the police and then conducted her own investigation.
This eventually led her to Piihana Road in Wailuku, where a car is believed to have burned down. She asked if anyone had seen her car, then left. Three minutes later, she received a call to return to the area and someone handed her the burnt-out license plate from her black 2017 Chevy Malibu SS.
The car, worth $55,000, was found burned down in the Piihana Farms area, she said. A chain was around the car, which had its trunk and hood missing and three catalytic converters cut out.
“I just don’t understand why this happened to me” said Driggers, who was going to work at 6:30 a.m. on June 2 when she discovered her car had been stolen. He was found the same day.
“Why don’t bad people have to suffer, but good people do, people who work for a living to pay for what’s theirs. I know it happens everywhere, but when it happens to you , it really hits a nail.
Through July 28, police said 511 vehicles were reported stolen in Maui County this year, an increase of nearly 41% from the 363 vehicles stolen during the same period last year.
Kihei resident TJ Prentice said his 2019 Ford F-250 Super Duty truck was stolen from the carport of his home as he and his wife slept in the early morning hours of May 29. Their surveillance video showed a man getting into the truck, starting it and driving off.
His wife posted about the theft on social media and spoke to people who said they saw the truck. After searching the backcountry, Prentice passed the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center and “about to give up” when his wife called to say the truck had been spotted a minute earlier at the Shell station on Waiehu Beach Road.
When he arrived and saw the truck, Prentice called 911 and used his wife’s car to pin the truck. He said a policeman arrived quickly, followed soon after by two others. The 31-year-old man who stole the truck passed out in the passenger seat, Prentice said, and a pipe and a meth syringe were found in the vehicle.
The man was arrested but posted bail the same day.
The solid steel base plate under the truck had been removed and its muffler was cut on the bottom, Prentice said. Because the truck is diesel, “there are no precious metals in there”, he said.
The $84,000 truck is still being repaired, with damage estimated at $16,000 so far, Prentice said. He rented a truck for his business, Pacific Greens Turf.
While all of his tools were in the truck, insurance won’t cover the loss of a backpack and a Yeti drone he used for work, Prentice said.
“It endangers my employees who earn money” he said.
A resident of a Maalaea condominium complex, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal, said his silver 2014 Toyota Tacoma truck with surf racks was stolen from the parking lot on the night of July 19 or early morning of July 20. “He was in perfect condition” he said.
When he called the police, “they basically told me there was nothing we could do” said the resident. He recalled an officer saying: “Go see Piihana Farms.”
The resident still hasn’t gotten his truck back, which he says would cost between $10,000 and $15,000 to replace.
At the same resort, tourists who had rented a Jeep woke up at 3 a.m. on July 25 to drive to Haleakala, to find the Jeep gone from the parking lot, the resident said.
In the nearly a year he has lived at the resort, he said at least two catalytic converters have been stolen and there have been a dozen instances of gasoline theft. “There is an epidemic here” he said.
When Driggers called the police again after burning his license plate on the afternoon of June 2, officers arrived and a crowd gathered around the Wili Pa Loop area of Wailuku. She saw three boys pass and recognized them from social media posts showing them in her neighbor’s car, which was stolen that morning from the same parking lot as hers.
When the police approached the boys, they called one of them, “Why did you take my car? Why did you do this to me?”
The boy replied, “I’m sorry. It’s all messed up. I didn’t burn it. said the dredgers.
She said the boy was handcuffed but had not been arrested. An officer later told her the teenager admitted to taking the car belonging to her neighbour, who declined prosecution after the car was returned undamaged.
When asked about the Driggers stolen car case, Maui police spokeswoman Alana Pico said: “At this time, no arrests have been made, as the suspects are minors.”
“Currently the investigation is ongoing as there are potentially other related cases, and once completed it will be forwarded to Family Court,” said Pico.
Asked for more information on the suspects and related cases, Pico said “there are several suspects” aged 16 to 17.
“Other cases are still under active investigation for various offences,” she said by email.
Regarding reports of stolen cars being burned in the Piihana area, Pico said: “Unfortunately, fires in the Piihana area are not uncommon and cannot be directly linked to stolen vehicles, but are being investigated.”
On the afternoon of July 24, the fire department responded to a 2-acre fire off Piihana Road that burned an area of brush containing abandoned vehicles and trash.
Photos of the fire showed vehicles huddled together in an area, which some say was not the case a few weeks ago.
” I don’t understand “ said the dredgers. “Why aren’t they doing anything about it? There are burning cars everywhere.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at [email protected]