Protecting Against Car Identity Theft
by Pat Goss
Identity theft is an enormous problem, and now it’s even happening to cars. You know, anybody can walk past your car and copy down the VIN number because it’s right there in the windshield. Once they’ve copied your VIN number, they can apply for duplicate papers, and those papers can be used on another car that has been stolen or may have been reconstructed.
How can you prevent it? Well, simply with a piece of a file folder. All you do is when you get out of the car, you place the file folder over the VIN number and no one can write it down. Pretty clever. But that brings up an interesting point, because here we have VIN etchers. This is a process where you chemically etch the VIN number of your car into each pane of glass on the car. Well, that deters the casual thief, but it makes it easier for the professional to copy your VIN number. And something else to consider before you do this is that all of the expensive body parts, well, they already have, on most cars, the VIN number etched right into the metal from the factory, so that makes it more difficult to sell these parts once they’ve been stolen.
Oh, don’t forget, visual things like The Club, they do a great job. You know, the casual thief walks up to your car and, well, he says, “Huh, I’m going to walk past that one. I’m going to find one that doesn’t have something like that to contend with.” So they’re a very good idea and they’re very inexpensive.
Something else that’s inexpensive, wheel locks. You know, you can put those on your wheels. It will keep the wheels on your car. Very, very effective.
But here is something that’s really neat. These are called plate lockers. Now, in order to steal a car for a joy ride, you have to take the original tags off and you steal a set of tags from another car to use on the stolen vehicle. Well, plate lockers use a tamper-proof bolt. It requires a very special wrench that isn’t readily available, and that’s the only way you can get them off without damaging the tag. Once the tag’s damaged, it can’t be used. So plate lockers, inexpensive, and they keep the plates on your car.
VINetcher, kit that allows you to acid-etch your VIN onto all of the windows of your car.
PlateLocker, theft-resistant bolts and special wrench to secure your license plates to your vehicle.
If you have a question or comment, write to me.
The address is MotorWeek, Owings Mills, MD, 21117.