Auto Theft Prevention Authority
A specially designed program to combat auto theft, ATPA is supported by a Michigan State Police grant. Through ATPA, each automobile's Vehicle Identification Number is engraved on all pieces of auto glass with a stencil and special acid. Because thieves can't re-sell a VIN-etched car without exposing their activity, and because replacing auto glass is prohibitively expensive, research shows that autos with VIN-etched glass are far less likely to be stolen. Many insurance companies offer reduced premiums to owners of cars with VIN-etched glass. Two retired policemen, Jim Brower and Esteban (Steve) Moreno, coordinate the ATPA program throughout southern Michigan, and work out of the WGNO office.
Questions About VIN Etching
How long does this take?
It takes 5-10 minutes. The vehicle owner must complete a registration form and have staff create the stencils. The owner may park their vehicle anywhere, but the windows must be completely closed.
How much does this cost?
Although some car dealerships and glass companies will provide Vin Protection for a fee up to $250, ATPA is providing this service free of charge. It’s our hope that the program will decrease the number of vehicle thefts and make you feel more secure.
What are other additional benefits of Vehicle Identification Protection?
- By having your vehicle protected, you may qualify for a discount on the comprehensive coverage of your auto insurance premium.
- It is an economical way of auto theft prevention. It is free.
- Protected vehicle windows provide traceable numbers in case of theft.
- Makes your car less attractive to the car thieves. Instead of making money on your vehicle, the thief has to spend money to remove and dispose of the protected windows.
Some key items to remember:
- TAKE YOUR KEYS. Nearly 20% of all vehicles stolen had the keys in them.
- LOCK YOUR CAR. Approximately 50% of all vehicles stolen were left unlocked.
- NEVER HIDE A SECOND SET OF KEYS IN YOUR CAR. Extra keys can easily be found if a thief takes time to look.
- PARK IN WELL-LIGHTED AREAS. Over half of all vehicle thefts occur at night.
- PARK IN ATTENDED LOTS. Auto thieves do not like witnesses and prefer unattended parking lots.
- NEVER LEAVE YOUR CAR RUNNING, EVEN IF YOU’LL ONLY BE GONE FOR A MINUTE. Vehicles are commonly stolen at convenience stores, gas stations, ATM’s, etc. Many vehicles are also stolen on cold mornings when the owner leaves the vehicle running to warm up.
- COMPLETELY CLOSE CAR WINDOWS WHEN PARKING. Don’t make it any easier for a thief to enter your vehicle.
- DON’T LEAVE VALUABLES IN PLAIN VIEW. Don’t make your car a more desirable target and attract thieves by leaving valuables in plain sight.
- PARK WITH YOUR WHEELS TURNED TOWARDS THE CURB. Make your car tough to tow away. Wheels should also be turned to the side in driveways and parking lots.
- HAVE YOUR VEHICLE’S IDENTIFICATION PROTECTED—Permanent marking of your vehicle’s glass with Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
For those who have experienced auto break ins - Here are a few tips...
- Close windows tightly when you are not with the vehicle – don’t even leave them “cracked.” Don’t leave your car unlocked when going into stores or using ATM’s.
- Keep your personal belongings, CD’s, cell phones and other valuables out of sight.
- Close and lock convertible tops.
- Protect your vehicle from being started by a thief by having a mechanic install a kill-switch in a concealed place in your vehicle.
- Add a second layer of protection to your vehicle by using a steering wheel locking device, a steering column protector or an alarm with a visible flasher.
- Consider etching your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) onto the glass surfaces of your vehicle. VIN etching makes vehicles less attractive to thieves because all windows must be replaced before the vehicle can be tagged with a fake VIN and resold.
- If you know anything about auto theft, report it to your local police department and HEAT’s confidential tip-reward line, 1-800-242-HEAT.
- Walk with purpose. Always approach your car with your keys in hand.
- Pay attention to your surroundings, and be alert to nearby activity.
- Always check the back seat before opening your car.
- Be suspicious of anyone asking for directions or handing out fliers.
- Always be aware of your surroundings. Look around and stay alert when you are stopped at an intersection.
- When stopping in traffic, leave enough distance between your car and the one in front of you so you can see their tires.
- Drive in the center lane to make it harder for a would-be carjacker to approach the car.
- Know your route. Use well-lighted streets and well-traveled roads whenever possible.
- Don’t drive without first locking your doors and closing your windows.
- Park in well-lighted areas, near sidewalks or walkways. Avoid parking near dumpster, woods, large vans or trucks, or anything else that limits your visibility. If possible, ask someone to walk with you to your car.
- Put valuables in your trunk or out of sight.
- Try to park in a garage with an attendant. Leave only your ignition key, with no identification.
- Don’t get out of your car if you see suspicious people.
- To avoid other thefts that sometimes follow carjackings, separate your car keys from your house and office keys. In addition, do not leave your registration, insurance information, or any information identifying your home or work address in your glove box or car interior. Always keep that information on your person.
- Keep a good supply of gas in your tank and your car in good working condition.
- Above all, never leave a child unattended in your car - not even for a minute!
What can you do if it happens?
- If someone demands, your car keys, don’t argue and don’t resist. Nothing is more valuable than your life!
- Get away from the area as quickly as possible.
- Dial the 911 emergency number and report the crime immediately. If you have a car or portable phone, it is a good idea to program a speed dial with the 911 emergency number.
- Try to remember as many details about the carjacker as possible: sex, race, age, hair & eye color, unusual features and clothing.
- If your house or office keys are taken, change the locks immediately. If a garage door opener is in the car, change the security code immediately.
What is VIN etching?
VIN etching is the process of placing a light but visible stencil of your vehicle identification number on each piece of glass in your car - windshield, windows and sun roof.
This deters vehicle theft, since in order to resell your car with an altered identification number the thief would have to replace all of the glass in the vehicle.
It is a quick process and may qualify you for a discount on the comprehensive coverage provided by your auto insurance policy.
Sources for free VIN etching
West Grand Neighborhood Organization
Mr. Jim Brower and Esteban "Steve" Moreno: (616) 451-0150
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Identification Protection?
It is the permanent marking of your vehicle’s glass with the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) in order to discourage thefts.
What good will it do?
Thieves steal vehicles in order to make easy money by either quickly selling parts stripped off the vehicle or by selling the entire vehicle. A vehicle with Protected glass costs the thieves money because it has to be removed, disposed of, and replaced before the vehicle is sold. As a result, thieves learn to not steal VIN Protected vehicles. In short, Vehicle Identification Protection is a good theft prevention measure.
Will it damage the windows?
No. The process only affects the outer most layer of the glass. This will in no way damage your windows or make them weaker.
Won’t it alter my car’s appearance?
No. The numbering is only 1/4” in height and 2” in width. The numbering has a white color that can be seen within a few feet of your vehicle. Thieves and police officers know where to look for the Vin Protection, but the casual passer-by will not notice.