Prevent Car Theft With Glass Etching

Phoenix, Arizona, achieves #4 in the list of top 10 cities with the highest vehicle theft! (2004 National Insurance Crime Bureau [NICB])

In 2002, Arizona had the highest car theft rate in the United States, with the vast majority occurring in Maricopa and Pima Counties. According to the Arizona Automobile Theft Authority (AATA), “a vehicle theft occurs every nine minutes and 16 seconds.” This causes an estimated economic loss of $3.7M to residents of Arizona in 2002 alone!

Don’t be another statistic!

Help to deter theft by etching your auto glass with traceable numbers. This procedure is highly recommended by the NICB, police departments and insurance companies for effectiveness. Although vehicle manufacturers mark some parts, it’s not enough. By permanently installing visible VIN and serial numbers into your vehicle’s glass, you can greatly reduce auto theft and aid in recovery.

You can visit your local auto dealership or window tinting/glass repair facility; or you can do it yourself with an etching kit found on many different websites. In addition to glass etching, the NICB also recommends other popular visible or audible devices such as audible alarms, steering-column collars and locks, wheel locks, theft-deterrent decals and ID markers on the car.

Auto glass etching entails chemically marking the automobile with its own unique vehicle identification number (VIN) on all windows, including sunroofs and T¬-Tops. The chemical process of etching involves using a mild acid that reacts only to the glass. Etching all the glass windows makes the vehicles less wanted by car thieves. The actual etching is small and does not mark or deface the window, but is one of the first details most car thieves see before attempting to steal a vehicle.

The recommended areas to be etched include the following:

  • Front Windshield – drivers side in lower corner by factory VIN number.
  • Side Windows – lower corner, near door lock or handle.
  • Rear Window – driver’s side in lower corner or towards the middle, lower edge.

These are the following steps for the glass etching kit for those handy, do-it-yourself types:

  1. Clean area to be etched with glass cleaner – Remove the blue stencils from the white backing paper and apply to the outside of window glass in the desired locations. With fingertips, gently “pat” the stencil to ensure that it is in full contact with glass, paying specific attention to the area where the VIN number has been cut into the stencil.
  2. Apply a film of etch cream – brush both left and right completely covering all characters.
  3. After etching cream has been on for 5 to 7 minutes: Carefully remove and discard all stencils into a plastic bag or container. Spray etched area with plain water or glass cleaner and wipe dry with paper towel. Repeat process for all windows.
  4. Warning decals – Apply to inside of windows in conspicuous locations. Suggested location: near handles on front doors.
  5. Complete the Insurance “Proof of Etch” certificate.

However, it is recommended to have this done by a licensed professional as this process requires a very steady hand and must be done under optimum conditions.For example; do not etch glass in direct sunlight on very hot days, when the temperature is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, or in very windy or wet conditions.

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