The IACP Leadership in the Prevention of Vehicle Crimes Award, was created for law enforcement agencies, task forces, councils, community partnerships, and other theft prevention alliances worldwide to showcase the results of their Calendar Year 2016 theft prevention and/or enforcement programs. Agencies―both large and small―have an equal chance of winning; entries are evaluated on initiative, on use of available resources, and on overall results. Allowing agencies to share how they successfully curbed vehicle theft in their jurisdiction.
2017 Winner – Virginia State Police
The Virginia State Police Help Eliminate Auto Theft (HEAT) program was established in 1992. HEAT provides training and support to local law enforcement agencies, including grant funding, and works with citizens to spread awareness about auto theft prevention.
The HEAT program launched an aggressive digital media campaign in 2016 that focused on auto theft prevention education. HEAT utilized its Facebook page, YouTube channel, and website to spread the message, “Take your keys or take your chances.” HEAT also purchased digital banner advertisements that were displayed on a variety of websites. The digital campaign peaked during July 2016 (also Auto Theft Awareness Month). HEATreward.com accumulated more than 2,300 visits that month. HEAT also released two videos during the campaign, and those have nearly 65,000 views as of October 2017.
HEAT maintains an extensive inventory of educational and promotional items that it distributes to local law enforcement and civic groups for purposes of spreading auto theft awareness. In response to the increasing issue of motorists leaving their vehicles unattended with the keys inside, HEAT added static-cling window stickers to its inventory. The window stickers display the message, “Take Your Keys or Take Your Chances” and more than 600 were given to local agencies, which distributed them to convenience stores and gas stations throughout Virginia. HEAT distributed thousands of promotional items and educational materials to at least 20 law enforcement agencies in 2016.
Besides to the two aforementioned HEAT videos that the program released as part of its 2016 digital media campaign, HEAT released a VIN etching video. The purpose of the video is to teach citizens about the VIN etching process so that they might consider attending a VIN etching event. HEAT provided free VIN etchings to more than 418 motorists at 25 events statewide. VIN-etching events are often held in conjunction with local police and sheriff’s departments. At these events, staff has the opportunity to not only provide a service to citizens, but they also have the chance to interact with citizens in a one-on-one setting, which allows for better education and building of trust.
In addition to VIN etchings, HEAT conducted a number of other activities including:
- Displayed at 38 other public events, including NASCAR events and the Virginia MotorTrend International Auto Show
- Distributed four news releases, resulting in television coverage from NBC and CBS affiliate stations, as well as various newspaper and radio coverage across the state
- Operated a tip line that offers rewards of up to $25,000 for tips on auto thefts that lead to arrests.
The Virginia State Police HEAT program continues to experience success in its outreach and prevention efforts. Since HEAT’s inception in 1992, auto thefts in Virginia have declined nearly 60 percent.
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