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Auto Club, Law Enforcement Help Fight Car Theft Through "VIN Etching"

VIN etching

The Automobile Club of Southern California, the National Insurance Crime Bureau and the Ventura County Auto Theft Task Force (VENCATT) teamed today to help prevent car theft with free vehicle window VIN etching at the Oxnard performing arts center.   


VENCATT is comprised the California Highway Patrol, Ventura County District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigations, the Oxnard, Port Hueneme and Ventura Police Depts., and the Dept. of Motor Vehicles.


Window VIN etching consists of stenciling the unique federally-registered 17-digit VIN onto a vehicle’s front and rear windshields, windows and sunroofs. The etching process takes about 6 minutes per vehicle to complete.  The stencil only sinks into the top layers of glass marking the windows lightly, but does not weaken the windows.


The vehicle becomes far less desirable to thieves because if they try to change the VIN number on the front dashboard of a vehicle, then they must also change the windows that are etched with the unique vehicle number.  This extra step costs money and cuts into their profit.  Un-etched windows do not pose that problem for thieves.


“Window VIN etching makes a vehicle much more difficult to be disassembled by car thieves and the parts resold for more than the car’s value,” said Auto Club spokesperson Elaine Beno.  “We’re happy to partner with VENCATT, the NICB and Oxnard and Ventura Police Depts. to reduce numbers of this traumatic crime for motorists.”  


In addition to car thefts, third-row seats in SUVs are targeted by car thieves, along with airbags, entertainment and factory navigation systems and paperwork to steal identities, Beno added.


Vehicle theft is America’s number one property crime.  In 2014, California vehicle thefts numbered 159,217, which the FBI valued as a $900,000 loss, according to CHP 2014 Vehicle Theft Facts.  Motor vehicle thefts in Oxnard increased from 664 in 2013 to 735 in 2014 and theft from motor vehicles increased from 1,308 in 2013 to 1,824 in 2014, according to Oxnard police thefts compiled in the FBI Uniform Crime Report.  The 1996 Honda Accord is the number one stolen vehicle statewide, and the 1994 and 1997 Honda Accord are ranked at numbers two and three. The Accord has remained the top ranking vehicle for theft since 2006, according to the CHP.


“The CHP has always taken an aggressive stand against auto theft.  We’re happy to partner with the Auto Club, NICB and other local law enforcement agencies to help combat theft through creative ideas like ‘VIN etching,’” said VENCATT’S CHP Sgt. Annie Vaught. “Although viewed as a property crime, most suspects arrested for vehicle theft are also involved in other criminal activities.”    


In addition to window VIN etching, drivers received tips from the Auto Club, NICB, and VENCATT representatives to help prevent their vehicles from being stolen or burglarized.


For 2014, The Most Stolen Vehicles in the Nation were  (total thefts):

 1. Honda Accord                             (51,290)

 2. Honda Civic                                 (43,936)

 3. Ford Pickup (Full Size)              (28,680)

 4. Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)    (23,196)

 5. Toyota Camry                              (14,605)

 6. Dodge Pickup (Full Size)          (11,075)

 7. Dodge Caravan                          (10,483)

 8. Nissan Altima                                (9,109)

 9. Acura Integra                                 (6,902)

10. Nissan Maxima                            (6,586)           


Source: NICB – Hot Wheels Report


For 2014, California’s Most Stolen Vehicles:

1.    1996 Honda Accord

2 .   1998 Honda Civic

3.   1991 Toyota Camry                                                                                         

4.   Chevrolet Pickup (Full size)                                                                          

5.   1994 Acura Integra

6.   2006 Ford Pick Up (Full Size)

7.   2013 Toyota Corolla

7.   1994 Nissan Sentra

8.   1997 Nissan Altima

9.   1996 Nissan Maxima


Source:  NICB – Hot Wheels Report


For 2014, Top Three California Theft Targets:

1.  1996 Honda Accord

2 . 1994 Honda Accord                                                                                         

3.  1997 Honda Accord  


Source: CHP – 2014 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.