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Auto Club, LAPD, And NICB Fight Car Theft With “Window VIN Etching”

2013 ACSC Vin Etch Hawaiian shirts

The Automobile Club of Southern California, the Los Angeles Police Dept.- Hollenbeck Division and the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) teamed today to expand car theft prevention with free vehicle window VIN etching at the LAPD-Hollenbeck Division on East 1st Street for the second year.  

Window VIN etching consists of stenciling the unique federally-registered 17-digit VIN onto a vehicle’s windshields and windows. The process takes about 6-8 minutes per vehicle.  The stencil lightly marks the top layers of glass but does not weaken the windows.

“Window VIN etching makes a vehicle less desirable to thieves because the process makes disassembly at a chop shop more difficult and the parts less able to be resold,” said the Auto Club’s Corporate Communications Manager Jeffrey Spring.     

If thieves change the VIN plate number on the front dashboard of a vehicle, then they must change the etched windows that are stenciled with the unique vehicle number which costs money and cuts into their profit.  Un-etched windows do not pose that problem.

Although auto theft is declining nationwide, it remains the number one property crime in America.  The LAPD-Hollenbeck Division sees on average 82 vehicles stolen each month in its jurisdiction.  California was the top state again for auto thefts in 2017, with the theft tally at 175,351, a rate of one vehicle stolen every three minutes and valued by the FBI as a $1.3 billion loss.  Top stolen vehicles were late 1990s and early 2000s Honda Accord, Honda Civic, and Honda CR-V, according to state law enforcement statistics.    

“Although viewed as a property crime, most suspects arrested for vehicle theft are also involved in other criminal activities,” said LAPD-Hollenbeck Division Det. Stanley Young. 

“Some vehicles are also targeted by car thieves to steal third-row seats in SUVs, airbags, in-car entertainment and factory navigation systems and paperwork to steal identities,” said Young. 

“The Auto Club is pleased to work with the LAPD-Hollenbeck Division and the National Insurance Crime Bureau to help prevent auto thefts and to help motorists protect their vehicle investment,” said Spring.  “For victims, having one’s car stolen, as well as its contents, is costly, upsetting and inconvenient.”

“Working together, law enforcement and organizations like the Auto Club are able to help educate our community members to better protect themselves from being victimized by car thieves,” said the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s Mark Lupoli.

In addition to window VIN etching, drivers received tips from the Auto Club, the LAPD-Hollenbeck Division and the NICB to help prevent their cars from being stolen.

For 2016, California’s Most Stolen Vehicles:

  1. Honda Civic
  2. Honda Accord
  3. Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)   
  4. Ford Pickup (Full Size)            
  5. Toyota Camry
  6. Toyota Corolla
  7. Honda CR-V
  8. Acura Integra
  9. GMC Pickup (Full Size)
  10. Nissan Altima

Source:  NICB – 2017 Hot Wheels Report                 

For 2017, Top Three California Theft Targets:

  1. 1998 Honda Civic
  2. 2000 Honda Civic
  3. 1997 Honda Accord  

Source: CHP – 2017 California Vehicle Theft Facts


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The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.