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Police: Free VIN etching can deter car thieves

Locking up your car is not enough to keep the vehicle from being stolen, Tucson police said.

Tucson ranked 22nd in the nation for auto theft in 2010, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Phoenix came in at number 56.

Etching a car's Vehicle Identification Number on a vehicle's parts can deter thieves, said Sgt. Matt Ronstadt, a spokesman for the Tucson Police Department.

TPD will offer free VIN etching Friday at SunWest Federal Credit Union, 7725 East Broadway, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

VIN etching uses a chemical solution to mark a car's ID number on every window, making it difficult for thieves to resell the vehicle and its parts.

"This process does not have any adverse effects on the windows, it is almost invisible, and it is permanent," Ronstadt said.

"VIN etching takes as little as ten minutes and may result in reduced insurance premiums," he said.

Auto theft detectives will etch VINs into vehicles for free, using materials provided by the Arizona Automobile Theft Authority.

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Detectives will also be collecting food for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. Although a donation is not required to have your car's windows etched, police are encouraging participants to bring two cans of food for the Food Bank.

Julian Ybarra contributed to this report.

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Car theft prevention tips

  • Do not leave a running vehicle unattended, for example, to warm up on a cold morning
  • Remove your keys from the ignition even if you have an anti-theft device
  • Lock your doors and close up the windows
  • Park in well-lit areas when possible
  • Do not leave valuables in plain view
  • Install an audible alarm in your vehicle
  • Use brake/wheel/steering wheel locks, and hardened steering columns collars
  • Purchase a smart key
  • Install a hidden engine-kill or fuel cut-off switch in your vehicle

Most-stolen vehicles in Tucson, 2010

  • Honda Accord
  • Honda Civic
  • Dodge Ram 1500
  • Ford F250
  • Chevy Silverado
  • Ford F150
  • Chevy Tahoe
  • Ford F350
  • Nissan Sentra
  • Dodge Durango

Locations with most vehicle thefts (Jan.-Jun. 2011)

  • Address Location Incidents
  • 1650 W. Valencia Rd. Walmart 12
  • 1901 N. Wilmot Rd. Northridge Apts. 10
  • 1440 W. Irvington Rd. Rio Seco Community 9
  • 101 W. Irvington Rd. El Pueblo Center 8
  • 750 E. Irvington Rd. Rancho Mirage 8
  • 4900 E. 5th St. Spring Apts. 8
  • 4500 N. Oracle Rd. Tucson Mall 7
  • 1501 N. Campbell UMC 7
  • 1702 W. 36th St. Portofino Apts. 7
  • 7400 E. Golf Links Rd. Villa Monterey Apts. 7

Locations with most vehicle thefts (2010)

  • Address Location Incidents
  • 1650 W. Valencia Rd. WalMart 21
  • 175 W. Valencia Rd. Casa Bella Apts. 20
  • 1440 W. Irvington Rd. Rio Seco 19
  • 4500 N. Oracle Rd. Tucson Mall 17
  • 5870 E. Broadway Park Mall 15
  • 250 N. Arcadia Ave. Arcadia Park Apts. 15
  • 5455 S. Calle Santa Cruz Harkins Theater 15
  • 1901 N Wilmot Rd. Northridge Apts. 15
  • 60 W. Stone Loop Promontory Apts. 15
  • 600 N. Pantano Rd. Eastridge Apts. 13

Source: Tucson Police Department