Prevent car theft with glass etchings

Phoenix, Arizona, ranks #4 in the list of the top 10 most auto theft cities! (National Insurance Crime Bureau, 2004 [NICB])

In 2002, Arizona had the highest auto theft rate in the United States, with the vast majority 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 $3.7 million for Arizona residents in 2002 alone!

Don’t be another statistic!

Help deter theft by etching your car glass with traceable numbers. This procedure is highly recommended by the NICB, police forces and insurance companies for effectiveness. Although vehicle manufacturers mark some parts, that is not enough. By installing permanently visible VIN and serial numbers in the glass of your vehicle, you can significantly reduce vehicle theft and aid in recovery.

You can visit your local car dealer or window/glass repair shop; or you can do it yourself with an etching kit that can be 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 vehicle ID markings.

Car window etching chemically marks the car with its own unique Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on all windows, including sunroofs and T-Tops. The chemical process of etching uses a mild acid that reacts only with the glass. Etching all glass windows makes the vehicles less desirable to car thieves. The actual etching is small and does not mark or damage the window, but is one of the first details most car thieves see before attempting to steal a vehicle.

The recommended areas to etch include:

  • Windshield – driver’s side in lower corner according to factory VIN number.
  • Side windows – bottom corner, near door lock or handle.
  • Rear window – driver’s side in lower corner or towards the center, lower edge.

Here are the next steps for the glass etching kit for those handy DIYers:

  1. Clean the area to be etched with glass cleaner – Remove the blue stencils from the white backing paper and apply them to the outside of the window glass in the desired areas. Gently tap the decal with fingertips to ensure it is in full contact with glass, paying special attention to the area where the VIN number is cut into the decal.
  2. Apply a layer of etching cream – brush both left and right and cover all characters completely.
  3. After etching, the cream is applied for 5 to 7 minutes: Carefully remove all stencils and dispose of in a plastic bag or container. Spray the etched area with plain water or glass cleaner and wipe dry with a paper towel. Repeat the process for all windows.
  4. Warning stickers – Apply to the inside of windows in conspicuous locations. Suggested Location: Near handles on front doors.
  5. Complete the insurance “Proof of Etch” certificate.
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However, it is advisable to have this done by a recognized professional as this process requires a very steady hand and must be done under optimal conditions. For example; Do not etch glass in direct sunlight on very hot days, when temperatures are below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, or in very windy or wet conditions.