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The tropical paradise of Hawaii is often associated with pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and a relaxing atmosphere. However, like any location, Hawaii does have some level of crime. If you’re visiting or considering moving to Hawaii, you may be wondering – what is the actual crime rate in Hawaii?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Overall, Hawaii has a lower violent and property crime rate compared to the national average in the United States. However, crime rates can vary significantly between different islands and towns in Hawaii.

Overview of Crime in Hawaii

Violent vs property crime rates

According to the latest FBI crime statistics, Hawaii has relatively low rates of violent crime compared to property crime. In 2021, there were 2.5 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, while there were 31.6 property crimes per 1,000 residents.

Violent crimes include murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, while property crimes include burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft.

Crime on different islands

While all the Hawaiian islands are considered relatively safe, crime rates do vary between islands. According to statistics from the Hawaii State Attorney General, the island of Oahu, which contains the capital and largest city Honolulu, had the highest crime rates out of all islands in 2021.

However, popular tourist islands like Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island still maintained low crime rates comparable to small towns on the mainland US.

Crime in popular tourist destinations

Hawaii’s most popular travel destinations like Waikiki, North Shore, and Lahaina generally have very low violent crime rates. However, tourists should still exercise reasonable precautions against non-violent crimes like petty theft and scams that can occur in crowded tourist areas.

According to Honolulu Police Department statistics, the most common crimes against tourists in Waikiki are pickpocketing, purse snatching, and rental car break-ins. But violent crimes like robbery and assault are rare.

Other island police departments report similar trends for popular tourist spots around Hawaii.

Violent Crime in Hawaii

Murder/Manslaughter

The murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate in Hawaii is relatively low compared to other states. According to the latest FBI Uniform Crime Reporting statistics from 2020, Hawaii had a murder rate of 2.5 per 100,000 inhabitants.[1] This ranks Hawaii as having the 11th lowest murder rate out of all 50 states.

The number of murders and non-negligent manslaughters in Hawaii in 2020 totaled 35.

Rape

The rape rate in Hawaii has declined over the past decade but remains a concerning issue. Based on the 2020 FBI UCR statistics, there were 550 reported cases of rape in Hawaii, equivalent to a rate of 38.9 incidents per 100,000 inhabitants.[1] Advocacy groups have worked diligently to provide support services to victims and bring awareness to this often underreported crime.

Robbery

Robbery is another violent crime category that Hawaii has relatively low occurrences of compared to other states. With 529 reported robberies statewide in 2020, Hawaii had a robbery rate of 37.5 per 100,000 residents.[1] Common robbery offenses include muggings, purse snatching, and armed robberies of businesses.

The island of Oahu accounts for the majority of robberies due to its dense population.

Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assaults make up the largest portion of violent crimes in Hawaii. The 2020 statistics counted 2,755 aggravated assaults, translating to a rate of 195.1 per 100,000 inhabitants statewide.[1] Aggravated assault refers to attacks meant to inflict severe bodily injury, often involving the use of a dangerous weapon.

Domestic violence is a leading root cause of many aggravated assaults in the islands.

Property Crime in Hawaii

Burglary

Burglary rates in Hawaii have seen a steady decline over the past decade. According to the state’s Department of the Attorney General, there were 4,687 burglaries reported in Hawaii in 2021, down from 5,643 in 2020 and 7,292 in 2010.

Several initiatives have contributed to this reduction, including neighborhood watch programs, improved home security systems, and community policing efforts by local law enforcement agencies.

Larceny-Theft

Larceny-theft is the most common property crime in Hawaii. In 2021, there were 25,345 cases of larceny-theft reported statewide. This represents a 15% decrease compared to 2020. Shoplifting, purse snatching, pick pocketing, and bicycle thefts are among the most prevalent forms of larceny crimes on the islands.

The tourist areas of Waikiki, Lahaina, and Kailua-Kona tend to see higher rates of larceny offenses. Continued public awareness campaigns are helping curb this trend.

Motor Vehicle Theft

According to the state’s Crime in Hawaii Report, motor vehicle thefts decreased by 12% from 2020 to 2021. There were 2,212 motor vehicles stolen last year, compared to 2,523 in 2020. Hawaii’s tropical climate reduces the risk of theft for car parts, compared to colder regions of the mainland.

However, organized theft rings transporting stolen vehicles overseas continue to pose major challenges. Vehicle tracking devices and bait car programs seek to apprehend sophisticated car thieves.

Arson

Hawaii historically has low arson rates compared to other states. Data from the state fire marshal shows there were only 58 reported arson incidents in 2021 across the islands. Oahu accounted for nearly half of those cases.

While any arson is extremely troubling, Hawaii’s rates pale in comparison to states like California and Texas that see 10 times more arson crimes per year. Continued public fire prevention/safety initiatives help deter would-be arsonists in the Aloha State.

Efforts to Combat Crime in Hawaii

The state of Hawaii has implemented various efforts in recent years to combat crime and enhance public safety. Some of the key initiatives include:

Community Policing

The Hawaii police departments have embraced community policing strategies to build trust with local residents. This involves officers engaging more with neighborhoods through foot and bike patrols, attending community meetings, and promoting after-school programs and crime prevention education.

Technology Investments

Law enforcement agencies across Hawaii have invested in new technologies like gunshot detection systems, license plate readers, and predictive policing software to help officers respond faster to incidents and be more proactive in preventing crimes.

Drug Treatment Programs

With methamphetamine abuse being a major driver of crimes in Hawaii, there has been an emphasis on expanding access to drug treatment programs as an alternative to incarceration. Initiatives like Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) have shown promising results in reducing recidivism.

Homelessness Initiatives

Hawaii has implemented innovative solutions like Housing First programs and outreach centers to connect homeless individuals with social services and housing assistance. This aims to alleviate underlying issues like poverty, mental illness, and substance abuse that can contribute to criminal behavior.

Collaborative Courts

Specialized courts like Hawaii’s Girls Court and Community Court bring together judges, child welfare services, nonprofits, and community leaders to provide individualized care for at-risk girls and low-level offenders. This interdisciplinary approach helps address root causes of crime.

While crime remains an issue in parts of Hawaii, these initiatives show promise in taking a multifaceted, community-centered approach to promoting public safety.

Safety Tips for Visitors

Hawaii is generally a very safe place to visit, but like any destination, it’s important to take basic precautions to ensure your trip goes smoothly. Here are some tips to help visitors stay safe and enjoy their Hawaiian vacation:

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Situational awareness is key, even in laid-back Hawaii. Pay attention to what’s going on around you, especially when you are alone or it’s late at night. Trust your instincts if a place or situation doesn’t feel right.

Protect Your Belongings

Unfortunately, petty theft does occur in popular tourist areas. Be vigilant with your valuables when you are out and about. Consider leaving expensive jewelry or electronics at home or in your hotel safe when not needed. Keep your bags closed and don’t leave belongings unattended.

Swim Safely

Hawaii’s beaches and oceans are beautiful but can be dangerous at times. Heed warning signs and lifeguard instructions, never swim alone, and be cautious of strong waves and currents that can quickly sweep you out to sea. Snorkel and surf with a buddy whenever possible.

Be Prepared for Natural Hazards

Hawaii’s volcanic activity and potential for tsunamis mean visitors should make themselves aware of emergency protocols. Know evacuation routes, have contingency plans, and keep up with local weather alerts and civil defense warnings.

Practice Sun Safety

The Hawaiian sun is intensely strong. Use waterproof sunscreen liberally, wear a hat and UV-blocking sunglasses outdoors, seek shade during peak hours, cover up with lightweight clothing, and stay hydrated to prevent sunburns, heat exhaustion, and other problems.

By taking basic precautions and following safety tips designed for visitors, you can fully enjoy Hawaii’s natural splendor and world-famous aloha spirit with peace of mind.

Conclusion

In conclusion, while Hawaii enjoys relatively low crime rates compared to other states, crimes still occur. By being aware of higher crime areas, exercising reasonable precautions, and following safety tips, visitors and residents can ensure Hawaii remains the tropical paradise it is meant to be.

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