Hawaii cops tell beachgoers to take their phones into the ocean to prevent thefts as locals claim a spike in crime

Hawaii cops tell beachgoers to take their phones into the ocean to prevent thefts as locals claim a spike in crime

Beachgoers should take their phones into the ocean to avoid having them boosted from the beach, Hawaii police warn.

Honolulu police suggested in a recent Instagram that visitors use a waterproof bag to protect their valuables in the water instead of leaving them unattended. However, the good nature post was met with strong backlash online.

One who took exception wrote, “how about doing your job?” Another commenter asked: “Is this a joke?”

The police’s warning comes as locals complain about a spike in crime along the beach, with more than 160 thefts reported along Waikiki Beach last month. However, police data actually shows theft is down across Honolulu in 2024 compared to recent years.

Police in Honolulu are raising concerns about phones being stolen from the beach  and have now told people to take thier phones into the ocean. (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Police in Honolulu are raising concerns about phones being stolen from the beach and have now told people to take thier phones into the ocean. (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Consumers can purchase the bags on Amazon and with retailers like Pelican Marine, AiRunTech, Case-Mate and Joto. They run anywhere between $6 and $30. Some cases can be completely submerged to at least three feet in the water.

Scuba divers do not suggest bringing the pouches into the depths of the ocean. Most smartphones can survive being dropped briefly into the water but the level of resistance depends from device to device.

Some Hawaiian beachgoers have questioned the suggestion or taking their devices anywhere near the ocean.

“I think it’s crazy. There’s no way I would put my stuff in the water with me,” one person told Hawaii News Now.

“To take a waterproof bag in the water, that’s obnoxious to me,” another said.

Others have claimed that they have noticed a spike in crime along the beach saying: “It is a real problem. It’s been getting worse. There’s more and more every week, especially with summer out of school.”

Hawaii officials have touted programs designed to help bring the Honolulu crime rate down after a spike. Overall crime reports are down 7 percent so far in 2024, with 16,740 this year compared to 18,025 at the same pint last year. All types of theft offense have also seen a nearly 10 percent drop.

Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous on the island. Locals said they have seen a spike in crime along the beach, but Honolulu police data shows a drop in crime across the city. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous on the island. Locals said they have seen a spike in crime along the beach, but Honolulu police data shows a drop in crime across the city. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

According to a Federal Communications Commission report published within the last 10 years, 3.1m American consumers were victims of smartphone theft in 2013. A large number of phone thefts involve draining assets from accounts linked to your device.

At least one in 10 US smartphone owners are victims of phone theft and 68 percent of victims never get their device back. Smartphones are now almost 30 times more valuable per ounce than a block of solid silver, the report states.

A large percentage of the thefts stemmed from forgetful owners leaving their devices in public places. A typical victim was at a restaurant in the afternoon and took them about an hour to realize their phone had been stolen.

Owners were likely to pay anywhere between $500 to $1,000 to get their phones back.