LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) – Car theft is on the rise, and now it’s happening where you might think your car is the safest: the airport.
Honolulu airports in Denver and Houston in Miami are reporting peaks in car theft in recent months.
With air travel returning to near pre-pandemic levels, airports are essentially shopping centers for auto thieves, according to Fred Lohmann, director of operations for the Southwestern region of the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
“People are traveling, so you have unattended cars,” says Lohmann. “They don’t come under, you know, scrutiny or constant surveillance, and that provides fertile ground for thieves to basically buy the kind of car they want to steal. Let’s face it: there are tens of thousands of cars at facilities like LAX or Dallas / Fort Worth, or at one of the country’s major airports.
Many recent thefts occur with carsharing vehicles organized through apps such as Turo or Zipcar. In just one week, seven of these vehicles were stolen from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu. In July, there were 14 vehicle thefts at Honolulu Airport, 13 of which were carsharing vehicles or peer-to-peer car rental companies, according to Lt. Bryan Marciel, section commander of Sheriff’s Airport to Inouye Airport.
“Lock your car. Don’t leave your key visible in your car, ”says Marciel.
Airport police forces are also understaffed during a pandemic, Lohmann adds.
“Like every other law enforcement agency in the country today, you know, they have limited resources. They deal with higher priority issues.
Authorities are also recommending that car owners use car alarms or turn off tracking devices or apps that can be used from the cell phone. Most importantly, they say, use common sense, noting that many travelers are distracted before a flight and simply don’t lock the car.