Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Simple precautions can save drivers grief

By the Advocate Editorial Board
June 27, 2013 at 1:27 a.m.

Burglary and theft are serious problems in today's world. Our society is full of material things and the constant urging to acquire these items. While many are willing to work to earn the means to buy what they want and need, others are not so credible or ethical. That is why we think it is important for residents to know how to safeguard themselves and their possessions.

According to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, nearly 65,000 vehicles are stolen in Texas every year. Of those, about half had the keys left inside. Thousands more are burglarized. But drivers can take precautions to minimize the risk of theft or burglary, and we are glad to see the Victoria Police Department is offering some services for free.

On Saturday at Parkway Baptist Church, the Victoria Police Department will offer VIN etching, which marks every window and major glass surface of a vehicle with the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) found on a plate on the dashboard. Thieves can easily steal a car and replace the VIN plate, but if a vehicle has the VIN number etched in every window and glass surface, that forces thieves to remove and replace all of those pieces before they can sell it. That acts as a major deterrent because it cuts into their profits. From 9 a.m. to noon, residents can bring their vehicles along with a current, valid driver's license and proof of insurance. The registered owner will need to sign a waiver for the etching. The process is simple and takes only a few minutes for each window.

Drivers can also enroll their vehicle in the Help End Auto Theft (H.E.A.T) statewide program through the Texas Department of Public Safety. This helps law enforcement identify stolen vehicles. Drivers can put a special sticker on their car that allows law enforcement officers in Texas to stop their car between 1 and 5 a.m. to verify ownership. Owners can also extend that to include any time of day the vehicle is driven into Mexico. Registration is free, and drivers do not need to be residents of Victoria County to take part in the program.

But theft isn't the only problem drivers face. Cars can also be burglarized, which can result in the loss of important, expensive property. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles suggests drivers hide valuable items, lock vehicle doors and take the keys with them, park in areas that are well lit with high traffic, never leave a running vehicle unattended and install a visible antitheft device. These simple steps can help deter potential thieves.

We applaud the VPD for its ongoing efforts to make Victoria a safer community by offering residents ways to prevent or minimize the risk of vehicle theft. We encourage residents to take the time to get their vehicles etched and take other steps to prevent burglaries. Just a few simple precautions could be all it takes to save drivers a lot of grief and stress.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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