Monday, January 21, 2013

Theft and Dealing with Theft on Maui

A lot of people think of Maui as an idyllic paradise, with mai tais on the beach, cute surfers, and perfect weather, a place where nothing bad ever happens. But Maui is a real place on a real planet, and sh*t happens from time to time. 

On the positive side, Maui is far from being the crime capital of the world and most of the sh*t that happens is petty theft. Pardon my French. That reminds me, petty theft is more popular in France than on Maui. DH jokes that it’s a national sport there.

A real post on Facebook last year concerning theft on Maui. 

What kind of theft happens on Maui?
Theft happens to tourists who are so blissfully happy to be away from the frozen tundra that they escaped from that they forgot to pack their common sense and left it at home.  

These are tourists who see a whale jump out of the water, and run outside to take a picture, leaving their car doors wide open with their iphone, wallet, or purse ready to take. 

These are the same tourists who go hiking at Twin Falls or some other tropical hike by the side of the road, leaving their valuables locked inside their car trunk and a nice tempting backpack on the back seat. No surprise when the car windows are smashed and stuff is stolen. 

There are also the tourists who rent a beautiful oceanfront home and don’t lock the doors and windows when they leave, and come back to find their jewelry or wallet taken. Or worse yet, they leave everything wide open while they are in the back yard watching the surf.  

There are also 20-somethings who camp at the beach, and come back to find their tent ransacked. All of this stuff really happens.  

There was even a supposedly well-known thief with a particular tattoo who hit certain oceanfront homes regularly. One story is that he took a picture of himself sitting in the hot tub at the Paia Country Club, which he broke into, and then posted it on Facebook. 

No one gets hurt with this kind of theft. It’s not violent. It’s just annoying and ruins a good vacation. And luckily, it doesn’t happen to most tourists.

Tips to prevent theft during a Maui vacation:
  • Bring your common sense.

  • Don’t lock valuables in your rental car. There’s a reason why rental cars have a sticker warning you to not leave valuables in your trunk. Bring them with you and keep a watchful eye on them at the beach or leave them in a safe or locked up. Sadly, rental cars usually scream they are rental cars. Unless you rent a wreck, which has its own issues, it’s hard to hide that you are a tourist renting a car.

  • Don’t leave anything obviously valuable in your car. If you have a backpack, open it up and spread all the contents on the back seat.

  • Some people think it’s wise to leave the car doors and windows unlocked. Others think it’s better to keep them locked but make it clear there is nothing value in the car.

  • If you are staying in an oceanfront or resort area, use the room safe if one is provided. If not, keep your valuables tucked away.

  • Lock up doors and windows when you are not there.

  • If there is a security gate, keep that closed and locked.

  • Don’t leave valuables sitting on your table or counter where they are visible from the outside.

  • Certain beaches are more notorious for petty theft, like Paia Beach or Baldwin Beach at night time, especially for campers. And camping really isn’t “legal” there anyhow. Makena State Park on Sunday nights (drum circle nights) also has a reputation for broken car windows and stolen backpacks.

The other kind of theft on Maui happens to residents who live here. Again, it’s not that common, but does happen. It’s very practical theft. Often, it’s certain types of trucks. Certain Toyota trucks, for example, are popular to steal here and end up on some private land far from civilization. Sometimes theft happens to farm equipment like chippers, tillers, and various power tools. Neighbors in the gulch below us had a ton of farm equipment stolen last year, including a $10,000 wood chipper.  The community garden has had wheel barrows and small tools disappear every now and then. Oh, and mailboxes too. It’s often worth getting a post office box or private mailbox to ensure getting checks. 

Plastic tie - will it stop theft?
Recently, a hub cap was stolen from our car at the beach. It’s a fairly new hub cap, and very hard to pry off, so it wouldn’t have just fallen off, which is the case for older hub caps. Kind of frustrating, but that’s life.  We have since then used a plastic car tie to tie up all the hub caps. It doesn’t stop theft, but makes it a little harder.

Car inspection stickers often get stolen too - these are the ones on the rear bumper showing a recent safety check.

Small businesses also have petty theft problems, not just shoplifting. Friends of mine had hundreds of dollars of handmade jewelry stolen out of their small shop in Haiku. Another jewelry maker had her necklaces stolen and the police found them in a local pawn shop. 

Tips to prevent theft when living on Maui:

  • Rent a postal box or private mail box, especially if your house is in the boonies. For condos, your mail is probably secure.

  • Lock up farm equipment with a chain and padlock.

  • Lock up your house and garage.

  • Also don’t leave valuables in the car, or left unattended, especially in any tourist spot. A friend had her car broken into in Lahaina.

  • If you have expensive stuff, it may be worth getting homeowner’s or renter’s insurance.

  • Take an exacto blade and criss cross through a car inspection sticker. Make sure to remove any stickers underneath before putting on the most recent sticker, or else the top sticker can still be removed. 

Do you have any good tips for preventing or dealing with theft? Comment below - we’d love to know! 


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