Police: VIN etching can keep thieves away from your car

Simple procedure has helped cut crime in Midtown

DETROIT – There is something you can do to your car that could keep thieves from stealing it.

VIN etching takes just a few minutes to do, and cops said it can stop thieves from breaking into a car.

Wayne State University police offer VIN etching to students, staff and neighboring Midtown Detroit communities if they have a flier for it.

"About 10 miles west from here, couple months ago, I had my catalytic converter stolen and a year before that, my car was broken into," said Garrett Godfrey, who lives in Dearborn but attends Wayne State.

Godfrey was one of the drivers who lined up and waited as cadets etched six of his windows.
"We're hoping that this will prevent people from trying to attempt to steal the car," said Josie Beaudette of Lincoln Park.

Beaudette works at Wayne State and had the car she just bought VIN etched.

"We'd love to get your car VIN etched so we don't have to take a stolen car report from you, " said Lt. Dave Scott, of the Wayne State University Police Department.

Scott runs the crime prevention program.  He said vin etching, along with other crime prevention measures, is helping cut down on car theft in and around Wayne State.

"We've cut crime, auto crime in the Wayne State area and on campus by 70 percent in the last four years," said Scott.

Cadets verify a person's VIN number and then create a computer cut stencil for the car.  Using a mild acid paste over the stencil, they are able to etch a very light amount of glass.

It's a permanent mark that thieves cannot alter.

"The value is here that this car is stolen and a thief wants to retag it, he can replace that vin plate pretty easy, but now the numbers won't match. So he's got to replace all the glass in the car," said Scott.  "It just got real expensive for him to replace or hide this car."

Rajesh Rampilla took advantage of the free service because he worries about parking.

"Parking around Detroit is safer when you do VIN etching, especially when you park on the streets," said Rampilla.

There could also be a financial incentive to having a car VIN etched.

"We'll give you a certificate of VIN etching, which could help reduce your comprehensive portion of your car insurance by up to 5 per cent if your major insurance company supports the program. Many of them do," said Scott.
The other weapon against crime police recommend is The Club; the one with twin hooks so it locks on your steering wheel in two places.