Make your car less of a target

August 22, 2008 3:57:50 PM PDT
We see videos often in Houston -- a 180-degree change in mood when a car thief is caught in the act. But the reality is a lot of car thieves are getting away with the loot, especially in this city. Houston ranks #1 in the state for stolen vehicles. Now, the Houston Police Department is trying to turn that trend around by making cars less attractive to thieves. They've teamed up with AAA to etch VIN numbers on car windows.

"Thirty-one thousand cars a year are stolen in the city of Houston," said Dan Ronan with AAA-Texas. That's far more than any other area in the state.

The most stolen vehicle in Texas is the 2004 Dodge Ram pickup, followed by the 1994 Chevy full size 1500 pickup and Ford's F-150 pickup. Rounding out the top five is the Honda Accord and the Honda Civic.

The etching process is simple. Your VIN, or vehicle identification number, is stenciled onto all the windows of your car. And that, police say, makes it a whole lot less attractive to a car thief.

"If your car has an etching on it, it becomes harder to resell the parts, and that's where the big money is at in auto theft," said Ronan. "It's not the car as a whole, it's the resale of the parts."

This is just the latest in HPD's ongoing efforts to stop car thieves. Their bait car program is proving successful. Last month, two women were busted after police say they took a bait car less than an hour after they were released from the southeast city jail.

"There's nothing 100 percent anti-theft, but every barrier we put on our vehicle will help the thief go somewhere else," said Sgt. TJ Salazar with the Houston Police Department.

The window etching only takes about ten minutes and for the next week, it's free.

The VIN etching is free through next Saturday, August 30 at AAA-Houston's Galleria district office, located at 3307 Sage at Richmond. The hours are 9am to 6pm Monday through Friday and 9am through 1pm on Saturday.

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