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Auto Club, Raid Auto Theft Task Force, & NICB Fight Car Theft Through “Window Vin Etching”

2013 ACSC Vin Etch Hawaiian shirts

The Automobile Club of Southern California, the Riverside Auto Theft Interdiction Detail (RAID), which includes the California Highway Patrol-Inland Division, Riverside County Sheriff’s Dept., Riverside Police Dept. Murrieta Police Dept., the Riverside District Attorney’s Office,  California Dept. of Insurance and the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) teamed today to expand car theft prevention with free vehicle window VIN etching at the Auto Club’s Riverside branch.


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 make disassembly at a chop shop more difficult and the parts less able to be resold ,” said the Auto Club’s Riverside Branch Manager Mike Curley.     


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 FBI Uniform Crime Report noted 1,754 car thefts within Riverside in 2015.  California was the top state again for auto thefts in 2016, with the theft tally at 186,857, valued by the FBI as a $1.3 billion loss.  The top stolen vehicles were: the 1996 and 1997 Honda Accord, and 1998 Honda Civic, according to California Highway Patrol statistics. 


“Although viewed as a property crime, most suspects arrested for vehicle theft are also involved in other criminal activities,” said CHP-Inland Public Information Officer Ramon Duran. 


“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 Riverside County Sheriff’s Dept. Public Information Officer Sgt. Chris Willison. 


“The Auto Club is pleased to work with RAID and Riverside area law enforcement to help prevent auto thefts and to help motorists protect their investment,” said Curley.  “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 better protect themselves from being victimized by car thieves,” said the Riverside Police Dept.’s Officer Ryan Railsback.


In addition to window VIN etching, drivers received tips from the Auto Club, RAID, CHP-Inland Division, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Dept., the Riverside Police Dept. and NICB to help prevent their cars from being stolen.


For 2016, the most stolen vehicles in the nation were:

  1. 1997 Honda Accord             
  2. 1998 Honda Civic                 
  3. 2006 Ford Pickup (Full Size) 
  4. 2004 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)  
  5. 2016 Toyota Camry              
  6. Nissan Altima                        
  7. Dodge Pick Up (Full Size)        
  8. 2015 Toyota Corolla                  
  9. 2008 Chevrolet Impala                
  10. Jeep Cherokee-Grand Cherokee 


Source: NICB – Hot Wheels Report


For 2016, California’s Most Stolen Vehicles:

  1. Honda Civic
  2. Honda Accord
  3. Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)   
  4. Toyota Camry    
  5. Ford Pick Up (Full Size)
  6. Acura Integra
  7. Toyota Corolla
  8. 1999 Honda CR-V
  9. Nissan Sentra
  10. Nissan Altima


Source:  NICB – 2016 Hot Wheels Report


For 2016, Top Three California Theft Targets:

  1. 1998 Honda Civic
  2. 1996 Honda Accord
  3. 1997 Honda Accord  


Source: CHP – 2016 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.