New report says Lubbock is the hottest spot for auto thefts

Lubbock No. 1 in Texas for auto theft

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Lubbock is the hottest spot for vehicle thefts in the state, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

The bureau recently released its 2017 hot spot vehicle theft report, which ranks metropolitan areas on the number of thefts per 100,000 people.

The bureau says it calculates the number of auto thefts reported by law enforcement agencies and compares it to the population of the metropolitan area to determine the ranking.

According to the NICB, Lubbock ranks number one in the state and number 18 nationally with 1,630 auto thefts reported last year.

The NICB ranked Amarillo 27th nationally with 1,168 thefts and Midland 152nd, with 476 auto thefts reported last year.

The Lubbock County South Plains Auto Theft Task Force is working to lower those numbers.

The task force, which serves 28 counties, specializes in auto theft and crime prevention.

Brian McNeill is one of a handful of investigators on the task force.

"We assist other agencies with their auto theft investigations, investigations of trailers, ATV's and UTV's and we assist the DMV," McNeill said.

The task force also provides free VIN etching to residents. VIN etching is the engraving of your vehicle's VIN into the glass.

"It's a theft deterrent because what happens is, someone steals a car, they take it, especially if it's a person who has a chop shop. They can chop it up and sell it as parts and make more money selling it as parts than they can selling the whole car," said Investigator Brian McNeill.

Chief Investigator Jay Truelock said his team works to etch the VIN number into every window on the vehicle.

"This makes these vehicles a lot less attractive because now the glass is traceable. If we go into a chop shop or any other agency in the United States, they can find this glass and tell you where the vehicle came from," Truelock said.

The whole process takes less than ten minutes. They start by scanning the vehicle's barcode to verify it matches the vehicle's VIN and printing it onto a special paper.

"Then we put on a solution that helps the printed paper adhere to the window, the glass. The activator will then etch into the glass," McNeill said.

Some insurance companies offer a discount if your VIN is permanently etched into your vehicle's glass.

The discounts vary, but they are typically anywhere from 5 percent to 15 percent off your comprehensive coverage.

McNeill said the task force is commissioned under the district attorney's office and about 80 percent of their costs are reimbursed through the Auto Burglary Theft Prevention Authority.

The ABTPA receives $2 from every vehicle's insurance policy. A portion of that helps fund grants that create task forces like the South Plains Auto Theft Task Force.

Jennifer Anderson with the task force, says investigators have etched more than 80 vehicles this year and are happy to provide the services to others.

Anderson said they can provide the service to small groups at a time.

If you are interested, you can call 806-775-1569.

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