Fighting Car Theft With VIN Etching

By Sarah Le, Epoch Times

ANAHEIM, CALIF.—July and August usually bring some of the hottest days out of the year for California, and they also happen to be the hottest months for car theft. With California No. 1 in stolen cars in the nation, police are teaming up with car insurance companies to lower the risk of theft.

This month Anaheim Hills Branch of the Auto Club of Southern California (AAA) partnered with the California Highway Patrol and the National Insurance Crime Bureau to provide free Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) etching.

VIN etching permanently engraves a car’s VIN onto its windshield, windows, and sunroof, making it less desirable to steal.


A study released last month by the National Insurance Crime Bureau found that nearly 180,000 cars were stolen in California in 2013—the highest in the nation—with the No. 2 state, Texas, following far behind with almost 70,000 and Florida in third with almost 40,000.

A car's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is etched on its windows in Anaheim, Calif. on Aug. 6. (Sarah Le/Epoch Times)
A car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is etched on its windows in Anaheim, Calif. on Aug. 6. (Sarah Le/Epoch Times)

California was also home to 9 out of the top 10 cities in the United States with the highest number of stolen cars per 1,000 residents, with Bakersfield, Fresno, and Modesto in the top three.

The Los Angeles’s statistical area, which included Anaheim, had the highest total number of car thefts at nearly 51,000 in 2013.

Theories on why car theft in California is so high include its close proximity to the Mexican border, large ports for easy shipment, and the state’s mild weather, which helps preserve older cars and their parts.


Some insurance companies give a discount if an insured car has its windows etched.

“It does actually deter car theft,” said Rachel Chavez, the Auto Club branch manager. “If you have a vehicle that’s in jeopardy of being stolen and they see that the VIN number is actually etched into every single window on the vehicle, in that case, the windows would need to be replaced in order to do something with the vehicle.”

Although VIN etching is mostly seen as a deterrent, the National Insurance Crime Bureau did cite at least one example in which a car was recovered after police found the VIN etched windows at a chop shop.

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