HEAT Program Offers Tips & Prizes to Promote Vehicle Theft Prevention Month

RICHMOND, Va. — Temperatures aren’t the only thing heating up. During the warmer months, statistics show that vehicle thefts take a substantial spike.

July is nationally recognized as Vehicle Theft Prevention month and the Virginia State Police (VSP) Help Eliminate Auto Theft (HEAT) program is reminding motorists to secure their unattended vehicles.

“With vehicle theft up this year, it is very important that we remind motorists to focus on prevention tactics to avoid becoming the next victim,” said VSP Special Agent Peter Lazear, HEAT program.

According to the 2017 Crime in Virginia Report, auto theft is up 3.9 percent from 2016. In 2017, a total of 9,947 motor vehicle theft offenses were reported. Forty percent of the motor vehicle thefts reported to VSP in 2017 occurred between the months of June and September, with August (1,019) having the most.

“Temperatures are heating up to triple digits and people are more likely to leave their vehicles unattended, with the keys left in it and the A/C running,” explained Lazear. “An unlocked, running vehicle is like an open invitation to have your vehicle stolen within a matter of seconds.”

Statistics from The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) states that nearly 1 in 4 vehicles stolen in Virginia have the keys inside.

“The HEAT program teaches a three-layered approach to vehicle theft prevention and taking your keys is Layer 1.” said Lazear.

The HEAT program’s “Layered Approach” is a simple and easy way to remember prevention tactics:

    Layer 1: Common Sense: Take your keys or take your chances.
    Layer 3: Technology: Install an immobilizer or tracking system.


“Put as many barriers as you can between yourself and a potential theft. In addition to the layered approach, never leave your possessions in plain sight and always park in a well-lit, high-traffic area,” said Lazear.

To heighten awareness to Vehicle Theft Prevention Month, the HEAT program is hosting special summer giveaways on its Facebook page along with key auto theft prevention tips and events offered around the state to help Virginians safeguard their vehicles.

Also keep an eye out for two 30-second public service announcements (PSA) featured on various cable channels during the month of July: “An idle car is a stolen car” and “Protect your parked car.”

Free Upcoming HEAT appearances include:

  • AAA’s Summer Car Care Event on July 29 (Henrico County)
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) etching on July 15 (Roanoke)
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) etching on July 29 (Martinsville and Chesterfield County)

    Learn more about the HEAT program and a list of VIN-etching events at 2017 Virginia Motor Vehicle Theft Statistics.

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    The Virginia State Police Help Eliminate Auto Theft (HEAT) program was established in 1992 to educate citizens and law enforcement about theft of vehicles and vehicles parts. For more information, visit Visit Virginia State Police online at