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Car Theft Up, State Police Offer Help

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Auto theft is a big problem in Richmond, as illustrated in Style’s 2015 Crime Almanac. But recent statistics show just how big it really is.

The capital city has by far more auto thefts -- 870 in 2015 -- than any other city in the state, according to Virginia State Police.

That’s nearly twice as many as the first runner-up, Virginia Beach, which had 446 car thefts but has a population more than double that of Richmond. The next highest thefts were in Newport News, 402, Norfolk, 390, and Hampton, 351.

According to the state police, car thefts rise during the summer along with the heat. And that’s why authorities are pushing HEAT, or Help Eliminate Auto Theft, a program to raise public awareness to thwart theft.

The suggestions the police offer are common-sense ones, such as not leaving keys in the car and not leaving a car with its engine running and windows down.

Other suggestions are more sophisticated, such as etching the car’s 17-digit vehicle identification number onto exterior auto glass. That makes it harder for criminals to strip a stolen car and sell its parts.

For help on VIN etching, police are offering a special program Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Henrico County government complex at 4301 E. Parham Road.

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