Car thieves can enter and steal a car without the keys as quickly
as the owner can enter and start it with keys!
What is a VIN?
Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) are serial numbers for vehicles that are used to differentiate similar makes and models. Much like social security numbers, every vehicle has a different VIN that is registered with the federal government. VIN plates are located on the dashboard and can only be viewed through the windshield. Law enforcement officers use the VIN as the primary means for making positive identification of a vehicle. It is a simple ploy of auto thieves to put something, perhaps a small piece of paper, over the VIN plate if they have to temporarily leave the stolen car unattended to foil identification by interested police. Unless the officer has a search warrant, he cannot enter the vehicle and move the paper to obtain positive identification of the vehicle. However, if the vehicle has been VIN Vaccinationed it will be very difficult to hide the VIN from the officer and theft is discouraged.
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Auto Theft is Big Business (Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau)
Auto theft is an estimated $7.5 billion business and continues to grow despite the declining theft rate across the country, according to the FBI.
According to recently released numbers, the FBI says that in 1998, auto thieves grabbed 8.4 percent fewer cars than in 1997, but the average value of the cars stolen was 11 percent higher. That means the auto theft industry's cost to consumers and insurers rose $200 million in 1998.
A car is stolen every 23 seconds. The odds of your car being taken were 1 in 171 in 1998, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Police apprehend only 14 percent of all auto thieves -- a percentage that has remained constant for the past decade. Thefts were most prevalent in the South, where 36 percent of all vehicle thefts occurred in 1998. Western states accounted for 28 percent of all reported thefts, while the Midwest and Northeast reported 20 percent and 16 percent of all thefts, respectively.
In a three year study conducted by the Kentucky state police, 125,000 vehicles were VIN etched. At the end of the year the number of vehicles stolen for that area should have been nearly 800 based on previous year's statistics. Amazingly only four were stolen, three of which were recovered undamaged.
The Honda Accord and Toyota Camry are again the No. 1 and No. 2 stolen cars in the United States. It's becoming a tradition: Japanese cars are the most popular among American thieves. But American cars are creeping up on the Top 10 most-stolen vehicle list.
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Top 10 Stolen Vehicles
NICB top ten list—the number in parentheses is the model year most stolen:
- 1994 Honda Accord
- 1995 Honda Civic
- 1989 Toyota Camry
- 1997 Ford F150 Pickup
- 2004 Dodge Ram Pickup
- 2000 Dodge Caravan
- 1994 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)
- 1994 Acura Integra
- 2002 Ford Explorer
- 2009 Toyota Corolla
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Why Are Vehicles Stolen?
There are four basic reasons for the theft of an automobile.
1. Joyriding: This is a bad misnomer since it tends to give credence to the claim that auto theft is a childish prank. Unfortunately, the term has stuck and we use this to describe the act of stealing a car with no particular purpose in mind other than to ride around in it. Cars stolen for this purpose are usually recovered within twenty-four to forty-eight hours in the same city or a nearby community from which they were stolen. These vehicles are frequently damaged since the thief could care less about the stolen property. Most of these thefts occur due to the carelessness of the owner who leaves the keys in the ignition or a switch in an unlocked position.
2. Transportation: This person is also a thief of opportunity but differ from the Joyrider in that there is a plan. The thief wants to go from point "A" to point "B". At the destination the thief will abandon the stolen car. Sometimes the car will be striped of some parts, and sometimes it is wrecked, but the general purpose was to provide one thing only....transportation.
3. To Commit Other Crimes: In these cases cars are stolen to be used for transportation to and from the scene of a crime. This generally involves the crime of robbery, but often involves other crimes such as burglary, drug trafficking, etc. After the crime is committed the stolen vehicle is abandoned, and frequently it is damaged or wrecked.
4. Commercial Theft: Commercial auto theft can be defined as that type of theft perpetrated for financial gain as opposed to Joyriding, Transportation or the Commission of Other Criminal Offences. The vehicle is stolen for resale or the sale of parts. This type of operation usually involves chop shops or unscrupulous body shops.
- Chop shops are often backyard garages in residential areas. They usually are short term rentals where cash is paid for the first month rent. The garage is used for stripping stolen cars and then abandoned. When garage owners are not paid for the second month they look in their garage, often finding the hulk of a stolen car plus remnants of others that have been stripped. During the period the garage is being operated as a chop shop, stripped stolen vehicles will be found in an approximate six blocks area around the garage. One of the common "scams" run by chop shops is to dump the stripped vehicle on the street, and wait for it to be recovered and written off by the insurance company. The vehicle is then auctioned off by the insurance company as salvage, after which the thief legally buys back the written off vehicle at the auction and re-assembles it using the original parts that were stripped off of it. The thief can now sell the car and register it legally!
- Unscrupulous body shops rarely dismantle stolen vehicles in their place of business. They would rather keep an arms length approach and buy from the back yard chop shop. Parts are usually paid for in cash and the suspect will sometimes "steal to order" (steal a vehicle based on a pre-order for a part). Should police make inquiries, they can claim "no guilty knowledge" and if necessary turn in their source to police making them look like an innocent buyer.
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Auto thieves sometimes engage in complex schemes called "VIN-switching," which involves an investment of relatively little money and a small amount of time for a large illegal profit.
The VIN, or vehicle identification number, is the "birth certificate" of a car. Auto thieves steal the VIN from one vehicle and attach it to a stolen vehicle. In effect, they steal the identity of one car to make a stolen car look legitimate.
A common type of VIN-switch involves salvaged vehicles. A thief will buy a totalled auto from a salvage yard, just to acquire the title and VIN, and copy the VIN from the totalled car to a stolen one.
VINshield Auto Theft Deterrent System™ makes VIN switching very impractical for the would-be auto thief. What kind of fool would steal a VINshield™ protected car and spend $3,000 replacing all the glass to get rid of the evidence?
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VIN Etching Deters Auto Thieves:
The Detroit News (Thursday June 11, 1998) reports
"When it comes to auto theft, every car owner is a potential victim.
Think it can't happen to you? Think again. There were over 60,000 vehicles stolen in Michigan last year. When I was a teen, most cars were taken just for joy rides.
Now stolen cars are big business. If yours is taken, you're lucky if it's recovered minus tires, battery and stereo. Some vehicles are grabbed by professional thieves and end up in chop shops where they're reduced to a pile of parts in mere minutes. Bye-bye Buick.
But there are measures we can take to cut the chances of being victimized...
One of the most effective ways to protect yourself is to have your vehicle's windows etched with your car's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
Here's how it works: a miniature copy of the VIN is acid-stenciled into the windshield, two side windows and rear window of your vehicle.
The process doesn't harm the vehicle, and stickers on the windows warn would-be thieves that the vehicle has been protected. It sounds complicated and expensive, but it's not."
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