LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) — Car theft is on the rise, and now it’s happening where you may think your car is safest: the airport.
Airports from Honolulu to Denver, and from Houston to Miami, are reporting spikes in car thefts over the past several months.
With air travel back near pre-pandemic levels, airports are basically shopping malls for auto thieves, according to Fred Lohmann, director of operations for the southwest region of the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
“People are traveling, so you have automobiles that are unattended,” Lohmann says. “They’re not under, you know, constant scrutiny or surveillance, and that provides fertile ground for thieves to basically shop for the type 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 any of the major airports in the country.”
Many of the recent thefts are happening with car-sharing vehicles arranged through apps such as Turo or Zipcar. In just one week, seven such vehicles were stolen from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu. In July, there were 14 vehicle thefts at the Honolulu airport, 13 of which were carsharing vehicles or person-to-person car-rental businesses, according to Lt. Bryan Marciel, commander of the Sheriff Airport Section at Inouye Airport.
“Lock your car. Don’t leave your key visible in your car,” Marciel says.
Airport police forces are also understaffed in a time of pandemic, Lohmann adds.
“Just like every other law enforcement agency in the country today, you know, they have diminished resources. They are dealing with higher-priority issues.
Authorities are also recommending car owners use car alarms or disabling devices or tracking apps that can be operated from the cellphone. But, above all, they say, use common sense, noting that many travelers are distracted ahead of a flight and simply don’t lock the car.