One of the best ways to prevent your car from getting stolen is to make the thief's job more difficult. A process called VIN etching can do that -- and it might get you an insurance discount as well.
What is VIN etching?
VIN etching, often called glass etching, involves engraving your vehicle identification number (VIN), onto your car's windshield and windows. This is done discreetly at the corners or at the bottom of a piece of glass, so that it does not obscure a driver's view.
VIN etching can be completed in minutes and is offered by dealers and many local police departments. You also can buy a do-it-yourself kit at auto specialty shops, according to Allstate.
VIN etching helps to prevent auto theft by creating more work -- and higher risks -- for thieves, according to Allstate. When thieves steal cars, they usually simply remove the VIN plate from the dashboard and replace it with a new VIN, according to the Duncanville (Texas) Police Department. But if the VIN has been etched in all the windows, the thief will have to replace all the glass.
Even if the thief intends to dismantle your car for parts, the windshield won't be sellable, meaning your car won't be as profitable as a car without VIN etching. Besides, etched glass makes disreputable auto shop owners nervous -- they don't want glass around the shop engraved with stolen car's VIN numbers in case they are investigated by the police.
Auto insurance discounts
Because VIN etching makes cars less likely to be stolen, it also means fewer auto insurance claims. That's why some insurers offer discounts on the comprehensive portion of your policy (which covers theft) or waive your deductible if your glass has been etched, according to Allstate.
In November 2011, the Dover (Mass.) Police Department encouraged residents to get their windows etched by offering certificates for comprehensive insurance discounts of up to 15 percent. According to the Duncanville Police Department, VIN etching qualifies consumers for discounts of 2 percent to 10 percent. Talk to your insurer to find out what kind of discounts it offers for VIN etching and other theft deterrents, such as car alarms.