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Auto Club, Local Law Enforcement Help Fight Car Theft

VIN etching

The Automobile Club of Southern California, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), Ventura County Auto Theft Task Force (VENCATT) and Ventura and Oxnard Police Depts. teamed today to expand car theft prevention with free vehicle window VIN etching at the Auto Club Ventura Branch parking lot.   


Window VIN etching consists of stenciling the unique federally-registered 17-digit VIN onto a vehicle’s front and rear windshields and windows. The etching process takes about 6-8 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 VIN letters and numbers were etched onto car owners’ windshields, windows and sunroofs.


The vehicle becomes less desirable to thieves because if they try to change the VIN plate 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 the vehicle far less desirable to thieves, much more difficult to be disassembled by car thieves and the parts resold for more than the car’s value,” said Auto Club Ventura Branch Manager Val Ringor.  “We’re happy to partner with VENCATT, the NICB and local police to reduce numbers of what is a traumatic crime for motorists.”  


In addition to car thefts, vehicle components like third-row seats in SUVs are targeted by car thieves, along with airbags, entertainment and factory navigation systems, Ringor added.


Top stolen vehicles in Ventura are: 1990-2011 Honda Accord, 1991-2014 Toyota Pickup, 1983-2014 Honda Civic, 1969-2007 Chevrolet Pickup and 1987-2015 Toyota Camry, according to VENCATT CHP Sgt. Annie Vaught. VENCATT is made up of the CHP Coastal Division, the District Attorney’s Office, the Oxnard and Ventura Police Depts. and the DMV.


Vehicle theft remains the number one ongoing property crime in America. In fact, in the U.S. a motor vehicle is stolen every 44 seconds.  In 2014, California vehicle thefts numbered 159,217, valued by the FBI as a $900,000 loss, according to CHP Vehicle Theft Facts. Between mid-June 2014 and mid-June 2015, there were 326 vehicles stolen in Ventura, according to police.  About 40 percent of all stolen vehicles in Ventura had keys left in them and approximately 50 percent of all thefts and vehicle burglaries reported resulted from drivers leaving vehicle doors unlocked, police said.


“VENCATT 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 Vaught.   “Although viewed as a property crime, most suspects arrested for vehicle theft are also involved in a myriad of other criminal activities,” said Vaught.  VENCATT also will be conducting future theft preventive events to include third-row seat markings for Chevy SUVs this summer, according to Vaught.


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


For 2013, The Most Stolen Vehicles in the Nation were  (total thefts):

 1. Honda Accord (53,995)

 2. Honda Civic (45,001)

 3. Chevrolet Pickup Full Size (27,809)

 4. Ford Pickup Full Size (26,494)

 5. Toyota Camry (14,420)

 6. Dodge Pickup Full Size (11,347)

 7. Dodge Caravan (10,911)

 8. Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee (9,272)

 9. Toyota Corolla (9,010)

10. Nissan Altima (8,892)          

Source: NICB – Hot Wheels Report


For 2013, California’s Most Stolen Vehicles:

1.  1996 Honda Accord

2 .   1998 Honda Civic                                                                                            

3.   2004 Chevrolet Pick Up (Full Size)                                                              

4.   1991 Toyota Camry                                                                                         

5.   1994 Acura Integra

6.   2006 Ford Pick Up (Full Size)

7.   1995 Toyota Corolla

7.   1994 Nissan Sentra

8.   1997 Nissan Altima

9.   1988 Toyota Pick Up 4x2       

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: 2014 California Vehicle Theft Facts   

CST 1016202-80 Copyright © Automobile Club of Southern California. All Rights Reserved.
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.