Tucson police etch vehicles for free

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Christmas is just days away, which means tons of last minute shoppers will be heading to the malls. Car thieves maybe out looking for their next victim.

For several years now, the Tucson Police department has been VIN etching automobiles for free. But not too many people know what it is.

"I have never heard of it, but I think its wonderful," said a driver.

The wonderful thing about it.  The etching is a great deterrent to auto theft.  Each vehicle has its own identification number, the detectives take that number and put it on each piece of glass on the automobile.

"So that if the vehicle is ever stolen or parted out we can identify the vehicle easier and the parts that belong to that vehicle," said James Wakefield from the Tucson Police Department.

The bad guys stay away from etched vehicles because they can be identified easier and it costs them money.

"When they part the vehicles out they can't get as much for the parts themselves, specifically pieces of glass are high dollar, the doors and taken glass and things like that, they don't like to take those vehicles, because they know they can't get anything for them," said Sgt. Wakefield.

Sergeant James Wakefield says with this being the holiday season thieves look for packed parking lots.

"We find that quite often the shopping centers, malls the large apartment complexes those places are often hit by car thieves because its a large pool of vehicles that are there," said Wakefield.

For drivers like reg parks, having the etching is just one more tool to keep the thieves away.

"Oh I think anything that can deter you know criminal activity is wonderful," said a driver.

According to the Tucson Police there have been more than 3,300 stolen car reports this year. The good news is, that's a huge drop compared to 2008 when there were more than 5,600 stolen car reports.