Did you know that California is the state with the most stolen cars? To help address this problem, the Automobile Club of Southern California, the Santa Maria Valley Auto Theft Task Force and National Insurance Crime Bureau will etch the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on vehicle windows for free as a theft deterrent on Wednesday, June 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Auto Club Santa Maria branch in the Western Village Shopping Center.
Auto Club members and non-members can receive the VIN etching on their vehicle windows to make them a less likely target for car theft. Car VIN window etchings are small, but visible enough to deter thieves.
The Auto Club, the NICB and Santa Maria Valley Auto Theft Task Force (California Highway Patrol, Santa Maria Police Department and Guadalupe Police Department) will be co-hosting the event in the branch parking lot, 2033 B South Broadway, 93456. These organizations also will offer theft prevention and vehicle burglary tips to owners.
Car theft is the number one property crime in America. Law-enforcement officials say the permanent engraving of a vehicle’s federally registered VIN etching helps deter car theft because VIN-etched car parts cannot be sold as easily by thieves. Older vehicles are stolen primarily for their parts value while newer, high-end vehicles often are shipped out of the country or, after disguising the VIN identity of the car, sold to an unknowing buyer locally. Sometimes vehicles are taken by juveniles and adults for “joyrides” and afterward abandon the vehicle.
The Auto Club and local law enforcement’s tips to prevent vehicle burglary and theft include:
- Always lock your vehicle with the windows closed. Never leave valuables inside the car, especially not in clear view, including small electronics, wallets, check books, personal and financial paperwork or any personal identification.
- Bring electronics and personal items into your home or office whenever possible.
- Use anti-theft or automatic tracking devices. If your vehicle wasn’t equipped with an alarm or hidden tracking device when purchased, have one installed.
- Never leave your keys in your vehicle, even at a gas station.
- Park your vehicle in a well-lit area at night when not at home.
- Never hide a spare ignition key in your vehicle, including under floor mats, sun visor, etc.
- Whenever possible, park your vehicle in a secure garage.
- Never leave the vehicle running at any time when you’re not in it. This includes your driveway, while picking up friends, or while at a grocery store, or shopping mall.