By on October 16, 2012

An interesting story out of Hawaii, where Dodge Charger rental cars are being targeted by thieves due to the ease of which they can be broken into – and officials are aware of the matter, with little action being taken.

The Honolulu Civil Beat has reported on the matter, claiming that thieves can break into the Charger by inserting a flat-head screwdriver into the door lock. The Civil Beat even interviewed one tourism official who copped to knowing about the matter

“VASH (Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii) president Jessica Rich is well aware of the Dodge Charger issue and has already met with the Car and Truck Renting and Leasing Association (CATRALA) and HPD to brainstorm how they can partner up with rental car agencies to get the word out to tourists.

“Most of the car break-ins we see with our visitors do involve Dodge Chargers,” Rich said. “We’ve been aware of this problem for several years now…We’re very concerned. It’s a serious problem. We’re working on it.”

Despite being “aware of this problem now for several years”, nothing has been done about it, and countless thefts have occurred. The Charger’s lack of theft security is compounded by its popularity as a rental. There is a growing push to warn tourists against renting Chargers, and having them decline the vehicles at the counter.

Thanks to reader Jeff Lesperance for the tip

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41 Comments on “Dodge Charger Rentals Facing Rash Of Thefts In Hawaii...”


  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    So, uh, what are they gonna do with them after they steal ‘em? Drive off the islands?

  • avatar

    Why does this movement target solely rentals? Are all Dodge Charger models affected? And what about the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Challenger? If these cars are theft magnets, I know a few people I need to warn…

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    And why is this specific to Hawaii? Chargers are offered at rental counters everywhere.

    Outside of advising against renting Chargers, what is the HPD supposed to do about this anyway? If it has been going on for years, shouldn’t Chrysler fix it? Would some updated parts be too much to ask?

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Yeah… what makes the Charger itself so easy to get into? Cheap door handles? Weak window frames?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        It is down to lock cylinders that can be turned with a screwdriver, according to the article. This knowledge was reserved for Hawaiian thieves, but will now be exported to the mainland by stories like this one.

        I’m not surprised that the Hawaiian officials have done nothing for years to protect tourists. There is plenty of resentment for the haoles.

    • 0 avatar
      stryker1

      The reason is that the overwhelming majority of cars on the road in Hawaii are rental cars. Seriously, go to Maui, you will see lane after lane full of convertible v6 mustangs and the like.

      • 0 avatar
        fincar1

        Or, you can check how many pages in the Honolulu phone book are devoted to car dealers as opposed to how many more listings there are for car rental outfits. Then, of course, if you’re on Maui you can join the rental-car parade up to Haleakala Crater any morning….

      • 0 avatar
        gregx-5

        Most cars around honolulu are not rentals. Regardless anyone with a charger is probably someone with a bunch of stupid money to blow in waikiki. So it’s simple to break into and you’ll probably end up with some goodies.

        Moral of the story… when you travel, always buy insurance and never leave valuables in the car.

      • 0 avatar
        nikita

        I just got back from Maui and something I noticed about Charger rental cars is the bad driving. Mustang convertibles, Wranglers and the like seemed to be taking it easy, stopping for pedestrians, etc. Not so much the Chargers.

    • 0 avatar
      manstersr

      I’ve been to The Big Island and at every tourist site parking lot they have signs telling you not to leave valuables in your car because of break-ins. Apparently, this applies to Hawaii because they have so many dirt bags breaking into cars, especially where tourists take the rentals to sight see.

  • avatar
    cfclark

    Burgersandbeer is right–smash-and-grabs of tourist vehicles are pretty common in Hawaii, and if your vehicle has that little barcode sticker in the corner of the window and is easy to break into, it is more likely to be broken into. We rented a Jeep on Maui a few years ago and never left anything of value in the car for that reason. (No real need to “smash” a soft-top Wrangler, of course.)

    Why Hawaii? Lots of tourists, and the locals don’t tend to drive shiny new Chargers, Mustang convertibles or other tourist rental fodder. It’s easy to spot targets.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      Yup. I was warned about this when we rented our Mustang convertible (which pretty much tags you as a tourist) over there. One slit in the top to gain access and the trunk release button is active without the key.

      We left our bags back at the B&B.

  • avatar
    2012JKU

    The simple solution is dont leave valuables in the car. I drive a Wrangler with a soft top half the year. I leave NOTHING in it of value.

  • avatar
    seabrjim

    Jack lord died in 1998 and Dano died 2 years ago. He was the last of the original cast members, so I guess this case is gonna remain unsolved…

  • avatar
    Junebug

    And where the hell is Thomas Magnum?

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Please correct me if Im wrong, but didn’t Florida experience a similar issue with tourist car rentals a while back?

    • 0 avatar
      cfclark

      Wouldn’t surprise me. And even easier to get away with it, given that it’s not an island environment.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      About twenty years ago, several tourists in rental cars were robbed and killed in Florida. A story from the time: http://articles.latimes.com/1993-04-07/news/mn-20203_1_florida-tourism

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        It was national news because the victims were tourists and that threatened the tourist industry. I was in Palm Beach from January-March of 1996 and pretty much everyone had a ‘my neighbor had his head blown off while pumping gas in West Palm or Miami’ story. It could be they were talking about the same victims, but getting gas while driving a luxury car in the seedier areas wasn’t much fun. Car jacking wasn’t news when the victims were Americans though.

  • avatar
    TTACFuzz

    Yes Yes and more Yes!

    I work at a rental car company in the damage claims, and one day, after hearing sob story after sob story of stolen belongings, I went through our dodge chargers in Hawaii.

    I could not find one that had a clean record. All of them were broken into. I’ve spoken to the police in one incident, and they are aware. I almost feel like we neglect our customers by renting these cars out without a statement “These cars are highly likely to be broken into.”

    @JBII – They are extremely easy to pop the lock on. I won’t say anything else.

    @whoever remarked about only in hawaii – We rent Chargers across the country, the only problems I’ve noticed are in Hawaii. They aren’t punished, or investigated is the way it seems, so perhaps that’s why it’s so prevalent.

    It’s nice to hear it’s catching on.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Here I am, thinking all the rentals in Hawaii were Chrysler Sebring and 200 convertibles!

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    When visiting Hawaii it’s pretty much common knowledge to not leave anything valuable in your rental when you park it, no matter what it is. So this is pretty much a story about nothing.

    “I’m not surprised that the Hawaiian officials have done nothing for years to protect tourists. There is plenty of resentment for the haoles.”

    According to my kayak guide on the big island last year they are planning to succed from the US. Hawaii is OK to vacation at for a week or so but you couldn’t pay me to live there. I’ll take my fresh water paradise(10,000 lakes) in Minnesota.

  • avatar
    threeer

    While the little white barcode labels were supposed to be easier for the rental companies (they are) and more subtle than the old “Rental Wreck” decals on cars from years ago that made them easy targets to spot…those barcodes are still about as much of a giveaway as seeing a full-sized pickup truck in Germany running on German-issued plates (ya know…since the bad guys won’t be able to tell that it’s an American driving that Ram truck since it has German tags…). I’ve not travelled to Hawaii, but when I’m down in Florida visiting my sister, it’s all too easy to spot the rental cars, which then makes for an easy target. So if I read this right, rental lots on the islands should start backing up with unused Chargers…interesting.

  • avatar
    morbo

    Last time I was there (Oahu ’09), on the real North End (where paved roads end and Beyond Thuderdome for Hobos begins), the police put up a sign warning you cars are likely to have their windows smashed and it’s your damn fault for bringing a car here.

    And next to that sign was broken glass from a window recently smashed.

    But at least my bright Blue rental Taurus advertised to the world I wasn’t local.

  • avatar
    LALoser

    Happened to us in December of ’10. I haad been living there for years when we brought over a new employee and rented him a Charger. We all go to Sprint in the rental, get him set-up with new phone and laptop with WiFi. On the way back to the office we stopped for lunch at Ala Moana, when we came out the car had been raided of everything. The police came to make a report and said the same…Chargers are targeted because they are easy. But that was the previous generation, I would hope this would have been corrected in the new model.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    I lived in Hawaii or the 90s. I had locals tell me don’t leave anything of value in the car. They also said don’t bother to lock the doors, and to even go ahead and just leave the windows open if you want, because that sends a signal nothing of value is in the car.

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      Yup. On my last trip I left the rental car unlocked and nothing of value in it. If the car is stolen, as long as you have the keys, insurance will cover it. Just a gray Sentra, but it was newer and had the barcode sticker, not that it made any difference. Locals had windows smashed to steal anything within view as well.

  • avatar

    Real men trek to Hawaii on a gun and missile-laden warship on the taxpayer’s dollars.

  • avatar
    AJ

    I once had a door’s lock picked off when the car was left unlocked (due to earlier break-ins and a bad neighborhood). Not the brightest thugs ever…

  • avatar

    on the big isle, the official tourist car was a mustang convertible. The next was a Ford Fusion (we rented one and it didn’t suck, to my great surprise), and last was the soft top jeep.

    away from tourist land, there’s plenty of poverty, most masked by good weather and the fact you can fish and live off the land if you are very poor (we talked to a guy who did just that)

    The “real”local car is an older 4wd pickup coated in dust. You don’t see much exotica in a world where you don’t have any real highways and the 35/50 limits are mostly observed on winding 2 lanes. Also a lot of battered but still running motorcycles of all sorts.

    It’s all so pretty anyway….and there is island time…

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      #1 local boy’s vehicle is an older Toyota 4×4, jacked up with big tires, and a bunch of dogs riding in the bed. Rusting ex-rental cars are the next most popular due to cost. Unlike Oahu or Maui, Hawaii County at least used to have cops use personal vehicles even for traffic enforcement. Camaro with little blue light on the roof is a lot harder to spot than a marked Crown Vic.

      Yes, I know a family there living pretty much off-grid far away from Kona or Hilo.


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