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Judy Seeley stood in the Sedona Police Department parking lot Saturday, March 3, waiting patiently for Officer Karl Waak to theft-proof her car.

By Trista Steers
Larson Newspapers
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Judy Seeley stood in the Sedona Police Department parking lot Saturday, March 3, waiting patiently for Officer Karl Waak to theft-proof her car.

Over 20 residents turned out Saturday to participate in Vehicle Theft Prevention and Awareness Day by allowing Waak to etch their car?s vehicle identification number on each piece of glass free of charge.

Waak said etching discourages thieves from stealing a car because each piece of glass has to be replaced before the vehicle can be re-sold.

Etching can cost hundreds of dollars if done at a dealership, according to Waak.

Seeley?s husband, who is a SPD volunteer, encouraged her to have her car?s glass etched.

?It?s better to be safe than sorry, as they say,? Seeley said.

Last year, thieves stole 54,905 automobiles in Arizona, making it the state with the second-highest car theft rate per capita, according to the Arizona Automobile Theft Authority.

?It?s a major problem in Arizona,? Seeley said.

In Sedona, thieves steal 10 to 12 cars annually, according to SPD Police Chief Joe Vernier. In the last six months, seven vehicles have been reported stolen in Sedona.

Waak spent Saturday morning helping Sedona residents protect themselves from auto theft.

Vehicle owners first filled out a card giving Waak permission to etch on the glass. A scanner then read the VIN from a bar code on the vehicle and printed it on a label.

Waak placed the labels on the glass and covered them with a special type of acid. The acid burns the number into the first few layers of glass.

After five minutes, Waak removed the labels and the etching was complete, leaving faint numbers imprinted on the glass.

VIN etching doesn?t cause the vehicle to depreciate, according to Waak, but can actually save owners money. Some insurance companies offer reduced rates to vehicle owners who have their vehicles? glass etched.

Waak also signed residents up for the state Watch Your Car program.

When a vehicle owner signs up for Watch Your Car, they are given decals for their front and rear windows that give law enforcement officers permission to pull them over without cause between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. The most automobile theft occurs during this four-hour window, according to the AATA.

Of the 54,905 cars stolen in Arizona last year, AATA reported 65.6 percent recovered. In Sedona, officers recovered five of the seven vehicles stolen in the last six months, according to Vernier.

Stolen vehicles not recovered are sometimes shipped overseas or driven across U.S. borders to be chopped and resold as parts or retagged and sold to unsuspecting consumers, according to AATA.


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