In the News

20 years later, the HEAT program continues to make an impact

Launched in 1992, the Virginia State Police’s H.E.A.T. Program (Help Eliminate Auto Theft) has made a significant impact on auto theft in the Commonwealth. Over the past 20 years, motor vehicle thefts in Virginia have decreased by almost 55 percent.

According to the Analysis of 2011 Virginia Motor Vehicle Theft Statistics, the number of auto thefts in 2011 in Virginia was 9,616, a decrease of 781vehicles or 7.94 percent from the previous year. The motor vehicle theft rate per 100,000 residents in 2011 was 118.8, an 8.58 percent decrease from 2010. This rate is the lowest in 37 years.

“It’s hard to believe that in 20 years, the number of stolen vehicles in Virginia has declined by more than half, despite there being more vehicles registered now in Virginia than when the H.E.A.T. Program began,” said Virginia State Police Superintendent Colonel W. Steven Flaherty. “The credit goes not only to the Department’s Auto Theft Unit, but also to all of our partners in DMV, local and federal law enforcement.”

Flaherty also attributed the reduction in vehicle thefts to the citizens of Virginia, who make the extra effort to take their keys and lock their doors, as well as those citizens who are willing to come forward to report suspected auto theft.

However, Flaherty cautioned the H.E.A.T. Program’s success should not be taken for granted. “Even though the newer vehicles have built-in anti-theft protection, thieves are still looking for those valuable objects they can steal from cars. So in addition to locking your car and taking your keys, you should also make sure all your valuables are out of sight. Last year, a reported $20 million worth of items were stolen from and off motor vehicles.”

H.E.A.T. is one of the premier state-sponsored auto-theft prevention programs in the nation. H.E.A.T. sponsors a toll-free hotline, 1-800-947-HEAT, and website,, for citizens to report suspicious auto theft-related activity. For more information about H.E.A.T. and the Program’s reward, visit or check out the HeatReward Facebook pages, HEAT Program and HEAT Racing. H.E.A.T. pays cash rewards up to $25,000 for tips that lead to arrests.