Taking a Bite out of Car Theft Crime

Residents Line up to Have VIN Numbers Etched on Their Vehicles

Santa Barbara car owners lined up yesterday morning in an effort to render their cars unattractive to thieves. The Auto Club of Southern California hosted a free Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) window etching service in the La Cumbre Plaza parking lot, seeking to provide local car owners with some extra deterrence against auto theft.

“A lot of auto thieves are looking to steal the car and sell it for parts. With the VIN, it is less desirable because it’s far more trackable,” explained Jeffery Spring, a spokesman for the Auto Club.

The numbers are applied to the car’s windows through a quick chemical process, making the car parts individually identifiable and discouraging thieves looking to sell off the pieces.

The Santa Barbara Police Department and the California Highway Patrol were also on hand, hoping the event would raise awareness and lower incidences of auto theft. “This extra layer of protection can help the average citizen not becomes a victim,” officer Jeremy Wayland said.

The event seemed to have a strong response from local car owners, with autos already lined up 20 minutes before opening, and continuing to pour in throughout the morning. With almost 200 folks showing up throughout the day, police spokesperson Lt. Paul McCaffrey noted, “Obviously there’s a number of people who think this is a thing of value. It’s hard to count crimes that didn’t occur, but we hope this can help auto theft become an obsolete profession, like an elevator operator.”

While the event only lasted the day, organizers said they’ll be back next year.

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