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Help Eliminate Auto Theft (HEAT)

Helpful Hints To Avoid Becoming A Victim Of Auto Theft

HEATAs we enter the dog days of summer, we also come into the months where auto theft is at its most prolific point. Studies have shown that the months of July and August are the leading months for motor vehicle theft in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with close to 20 percent of all reported auto thefts being in these months. You may ask yourself why the summer months and not some other time of the year? But when you realize that young people 20 years old or younger make up 60 percent of those arrested for auto theft, you can understand why the summer months are so adverse for auto theft. There are things that you can do to avoid having your car or truck stolen. The Smithfield Police Department with the cooperation of the Virginia State Police, Help Eliminate Auto Theft Program (HEAT) and the National Insurance Crime Bureau work to get the message out that auto theft is mostly avoidable if people take an active role in its prevention. Having this in mind we recommend what we call the layered approach to auto theft prevention.



Layer 1: The Common Sense Approach

The common sense approach is just that, use common sense when it comes to securing your vehicle. Lock your vehicles! Half of all stolen vehicles are left unlocked. Take the keys out of your car! Nearly 20 percent of all vehicles stolen have the keys left in them. Park in well-lighted and attended lots! Car thieves usually don’t like witnesses. Finally, don’t leave valuables in plain view. Most car thieves have no intention on keeping your car, but your valuables are something all together different.

Layer 2: Visible or Audible Deterrent

Most of us have been in a parking lot somewhere and heard one of those car alarms go off. It is probable that you have seen the advertisements on television for the Club and other visible auto theft prevention devices. Some of you might have even purchased some of these devices with the hope that they do what their advertised to do. The simple answer to that is, yes they do work but only when used with the first step of the layer approach, common sense. The object of layer two is add another deterrent in front of the car thieve. Car thieves will be less likely to steal your vehicle with one of these devices on them. The reason for this is simple. The more time and attention you give the thief the less likely your car will be stolen.

Layer 3: Vehicle Immobilizes

These devices are designed to prevent your vehicle from being stolen by doing just what the name says, immobilizing your vehicle. Some of your newer vehicles come equipped with computer chips in the ignition keys which will immobilize a vehicle, while other vehicles come with electrical and or fuel system that shuts down so that the person attempting to drive the vehicle cannot move.

Layer 4: Tracking Systems

The final layer in the layered system is the use of a tracking system in your vehicle. Lo-Jack is a system that when activated can track a stolen vehicle that is within many miles from its location. The process of installing the Lo-Jack system consist of placing a small computer tracking chip in anlocation on your vehicle. When activated, a patrol unit tracking device can pinpoint the location of the target vehicle.

HEAT EducationAuto theft is not always avoidable, however with common sense and the help of today’s technology you minimize the chance of becoming a victim of auto theft. The yearly average cost of reported motor vehicle thefts in Virginia is $112,495,129. It is important that all of us take auto theft prevention seriously.

For more information on auto theft prevention and the Help Eliminate Auto Theft (HEAT) program, please visit their website or call the Smithfield Police Department at (757) 357-3247.

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913 S Church Street
Smithfield, VA  23430


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