At any given time, nearly one in five people on any of Hawaii’s islands is a visitor. Tourism is the single biggest source of spending in Hawaii’s economy, contributing nearly $18 billion in 2019 alone.
The impact of high tourism rates is just one potential reason why property crime rates in the Aloha State remain among the highest in the U.S. Let’s take a look at the state of property crime in Hawaii, including how it’s changing.
At A Glance:
- With #1 being the best, Hawaii is ranked #44 for property crime out of 50 states + Washington, D.C.
- You have a 2.84% chance of being a property crime victim in Hawaii in the next 12 months.
- Hawaii’s property crime rate is 35% higher than the average crime rate in the United States.
Only six states and the District of Columbia have higher property crime rates than Hawaii, taking into account larceny-theft, burglary, vehicle theft, and arson. Hawaii’s rate is a fraction of a percentage point behind that of Oklahoma.
Hawaii’s Most Current Property Crime Rates (2019)
- Rate of Property Crime
- Hawaii average:: 28.41 crimes per 1,000 people
- National average: 21.1 crimes per 1,000 people
Fortunately, property crime in Hawaii has been on the decline over the past decade, falling 15 percent between 2010 and 2019. While that is certainly good news, Hawaii’s property crime decline was one of the lowest in the country. Alaska and North Dakota both posted increases in property crime, and the average decline was 27 percent.
Hawaii’s Overall Property Crime Trends (2010 – 2019)
- Average Rate of Property Crime:
- Hawaii 10-year average: 30.79 crimes per 1,000 people
- National 10-year average: 25.61 crimes per 1,000 people
- -15% Has property crime increased or decreased during this time?
- There was a 15% decrease in property crime in Hawaii from 2010 as compared to 2019.
- 2010 Which year had the highest rate of property crime in Hawaii?:
- The highest rate of property crime in Hawaii was 2010 (33.49 crimes per 1,000 people)
- 2017 Which year had the lowest rate of property crime in Hawaii?:
- The lowest rate of property crime in Hawaii was 2017 (28.36 crimes per 1,000 people)
What incidents fall under the umbrella of property crime? Burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson are the four major property crime categories reported by the FBI. In every case, if the incident involves violence or threats of violence, it no longer is a property crime and is classified as a violent crime.
Hawaii’s Property Crime Category Trends (2010 – 2019)
- Which type of property crime occurred the most in Hawaii over the past decade?
- Larceny occurred more than any other property crime at a rate of 22.3 crimes per 1,000 people.
- Average property crime rate by category
- Average burglary rate: 4.9 crimes per 1,000 people
- Average larceny rate: 22.3 crimes per 1,000 people
- Average vehicle crime rate: 3.6 crimes per 1,000 people
- Average arson rate: 0.28 crimes per 1,000 people
- Note: There were no state-level FBI estimates for arson, so we substituted the data for Honolulu.
- +5% Which types of property crime have increased during this time period?
- Every type of property crime has fallen in Hawaii since 2010, but the lowest decline was vehicle theft, which fell by just under 5%.
- -41% Which types of property crime have decreased during this time period?
- The biggest property crime decrease was burglary, which fell by 41%. Arson also had a major decline, dropping by about 24%.
Why is property crime so high in Hawaii? Honolulu Police Deputy Chief John McCarthy connected the crime rate to the state’s position as a vacation hotspot: “Tourists make great victims,” he told Honolulu Civil Beat.
Ashley Rubin, an assistant sociology professor at the University of Hawaii, had a different take, connecting high property crime rates with economic factors. Indeed, much of the research on crime rates blame factors like poverty and unemployment, as well as population density and urbanization.
On those scores, the statistics show a mixed bag in Hawaii. While the state’s unemployment rate in April 2021 was the nation’s highest (8.5 percent), just over nine percent of the state’s residents live below the poverty line. For comparison, about 12 percent of Americans are in poverty.
However, Hawaii is one of the most urbanized states. About 92 percent of people who live in Hawaii reside in urban areas, the sixth-highest rate in the country. And the rate has steadily increased, climbing by about 10 percent since the 1970s.