California is the state with the most stolen vehicles with more than 175,000 vehicles nabbed at an estimated value of $1.3 billion. To help address this problem, the Automobile Club of Southern California and local law enforcement will provide free anti-car theft Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) etching for car windows on Wednesday, Sept. 26 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Simi Valley Police Dept. parking lot, 3901 Alamo St., Simi Valley.
Car window VIN etchings are small, but visible enough to deter thieves, according to law enforcement officials.
The Auto Club is co-hosting the event with VENCATT, the Ventura County Auto Theft Task Force made up of several law enforcement agencies, including the California Highway Patrol, the Simi Valley Police Dept., and the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). The agencies also will offer theft prevention tips to car owners. The FBI Uniform Crime Report noted 76 car thefts in Ventura County in 2016. The Simi Valley Police Dept. noted 105 stolen vehicles in 2016 in its jurisdiction.
Drivers with current vehicle registrations and driver licenses can receive the VIN etching on their vehicles’ windows to make them less of a target. For more information, call Auto Club Public Relations at 714-885-2324 or Simi Valley Police Dept. at 805-583-6950.
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.
Auto Club and VENCATT law enforcement agencies’ tips to prevent vehicle burglary and car theft include:
- Whenever possible, park your vehicle in a secure garage and lock it.
- Always lock your vehicle with the windows closed. Never leave valuables inside the car, especially not in clear view, including cash, gift cards, sunglasses, spare keys, small electronics and phone chargers, purses or wallets, checkbooks, garage door openers, personal paperwork, vehicle ownership title, credit cards, ATM cards 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, a locked garage, or in hide-a-key boxes.
- Park your vehicle in a well-lit area at night.
- Never hide a spare ignition key in your vehicle, including under floor mats, sun visor, etc.
More car theft prevention tips:
- 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.
- Never put identifying information on your key chain.
- If you own a frequently stolen vehicle, like an older Honda or Toyota, get a secondary locking device for your vehicle and use it.
- Use a valet key when valet parking. Some vehicles have special valet keys which can only be used to park your vehicle. Several high-performance vehicles also use special keys to limit vehicle speed and engine revolutions per minute (RPM).
- Never leave your parking ticket stub in your vehicle. Take it with you so an auto thief cannot use it as a "ticket" to exit out of the parking lot or structure.
- If you must leave your keys with a valet, always remove all other unnecessary keys. While you’re enjoying the show or dining out, a dishonest valet can copy your keys and later burglarize your home or business.
- Beware of thieves stealing vehicles during test drives. If you’re advertising a vehicle for sale online or on Craigslist, get driver’s license information of the prospective buyer and enough other information to ensure the potential buyer will have a strong incentive to bring the car back.
There is no guarantee that your car will not be stolen, but taking precautionary measures can minimize your chances of becoming the victim of auto theft.