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Watch Your Car: Austin Police Offer Free VIN Etching, More

City of Yuma, Arizona
Don't let this happen to you: Austin police urge extra caution during "Watch Your Car" month.

The temperature isn’t the only thing rising this July: So is auto theft.

July is one of the more popular months for car thieves in Texas, according to the Austin Police Department.

This month, police are taking part in a “Watch Your Car” campaign, which aims to educate Austinites on ways they can prevent their cars from being stolen.

APD will be at the Barton Creek Mall today from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to offer community services designed to curb car thefts.

  APD describes the following services offered today:

Free VIN Etching – All vehicles have a federally assigned vehicle identification number (VIN). The etching of a VIN on the windows of a vehicle deters thieves because it is more difficult to dispose of property that is identifiable. Registration in the H.E.A.T. Program – H.E.A.T. is a statewide vehicle registration program that helps law enforcement agencies identify stolen vehicles. Vehicle owners sign an agreement allowing officers to stop their vehicle and verify ownership if the vehicle if the vehicle is being driven during the hours of 1-5 a.m. (the time period when most cars are stolen).

This year, APD has seen an increase in stolen large trucks such as Ford, Chevy and Dodge pickups. One such truck was stolen from Barton Creek Mall recently, setting off a chain of events that claimed the life of an innocent motorist. Assistant APD chief Sean Mannix said “The F-250s and other larger, full-sized four-door pick-up trucks are used extensively in the ‘coyote’ transport of illegal immigrants across the border.”

Another vehicle that is popular among car thieves is the Honda Accord, particularly the mid-1990s models. The average stolen vehicle is approximately five years old or more.

The “Watch Your Car” campaign is part of a statewide campaign dating back years – as you can tell by this dated but entertaining public service announcement

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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