The Star Advertiser Editorial section has suggested Kailua’s tourism boom is a factor for increasing crime in Kailua. Keep it Kailua would have to agree with the Star Advertiser’s conclusion for multiple reasons. First and foremost, is the fact that Kailua has been marketed to the world as a Windward “Resort” area by the illegal vacation rental operators and Kaneohe Ranch. So not only are the tourists being drawn into the community, but criminals are also being drawn to the community because they also see it as an up-scale resort area filled with unsuspecting tourists and multi-million dollar vacation homes. Secondly, having an increased number of strangers walking and driving through your neighborhood makes it difficult to track and identify potential thieves. And finally, Illegal vacation rental owners and their guest cannot participate in Neighborhood Watch programs, making their neighbors more vulnerable to break-ins. We all need to ask ourselves, do we want to be the “Windward Waikiki”? If not, the only real option we have is to not allow our residential-zoned homes be turned into “horizontal-hotels” and our public beaches and parks be turned into “commercial tourist traps”!
For Kailuans, more means more crime, too
It’s difficult to know how to read the recent reports of crime trends in Kailua, other than with distress.
Property crimes are up. Example: There were 271 thefts from autos for March-June 2013, with 118 cases in that period last year.
That suggests that maybe the increased tourist traffic in the town is a factor. Police are always warning visitors to Hawaii not to leave valuables in their rental cars, and that advice goes for local residents, too.
Is it the sluggish economy? And is it only a problem in Kailua, or is it that this town has a tendency to speak up more assertively than other neighborhoods?
In any case, when one of the crime victims is a veteran legislator — state Rep. Cynthia Thielen had a close encounter with a burglar at her home — the topic will remain high profile for some time.