VIN Etching Can Deter Thieves

Tracking a stolen car can be as simple as looking in the window

If your car is stolen, ten to 15 minutes could mean the difference when it comes to getting it back.

Chula Vista police, the California Highway Patrol and the Automobile Association of America (AAA) offered free stenciling of Vehicle Identification Number on the windows of vehicles Wednesday.

“When cars are stolen, a lot of times the crooks will change the VIN and to do it on all the windows on all the vehicles is very expensive and takes a lot of time,” said CHP Capt. Lisa Wrobel who oversees the Regional Auto Theft Task Force.

Wrobel said the VIN etching has been proven to be a deterrent to auto theft.

"It's important to me," said driver Liz Shoemaker. "I dropped my keys and some kids took it for a joyride and I got it back in 5 hours."

"Now I hope that etching will deter them from even doing something like that," Shoemaker said.

In 2008, 21,000 cars were stolen in San Diego County, according to Wrobel. For 2009, the county will see 15-16,000 vehicles stolen, said Wrobel.

Using steering wheel locks and some type of recovery system, along with VIN etching, can help deter thieves.

Most dealerships will do the VIN etching but charge for it. If you missed this recent event, AAA said they are planning on doing similar free events in San Diego County later this year.

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