Recently a friend of a friend sent me an email about covering the VIN to save my car. Being a football fan I naturally assumed it had something to do with now unemployed Vinny Testaverde. After all he did go to University of Miami and is kind of a guido looking Italian guy who you could imagine on the Sopranos. So now I was curious why was my friend warning me about another football player gone wrong?
Here is the email:
Subject: FW: Please Read!!!! COVER YOUR VIN -PROTECT YOUR CAR FROM BEING STOLEN BEING STOLEN
Here is info worth the price of your car….WHAT WILL
THEY THINK OF NEXT? Seems that car thieves have found
yet another way to steal your car or truck without any
effort at all… The car thieves peer through the
windshield of your car or truck, write down the VIN #
from the label on the dash, go to the local car
dealership and request a duplicate key based on the
VIN # . My friend didn’t believe this, so she called
Chrysler-Dodge and pretended she had lost her keys.
They told her to just bring in the VIN #, and they
would cut her one on the spot, and she could order the
keyless device if she wanted. The Car Dealer’s Parts
Department will make a duplicate key from the VIN #,
and collect payment from the thief who will return to
your car. He doesn’t have to break in, do any damage
to the vehicle, or draw attention to himself. All he
has to do is walk up to your car, insert the key and
off he goes to a local Chop Shop with your vehicle.
You don’t believe it? It IS that easy.
To avoid this from happening to you, simply put some
tape (Electrical tape, duct tape or medical tape)
across the VIN Metal Label located on the dash board.
By law, you cannot remove the VIN, but you can cover
it so it can’t be viewed through the windshield by a
car thief. I urge you to forward this to your friends
before some other car thief steals another car or
truck. I slipped a 3 x 5 card over the VIN NUMBER.
This can also be done when you have parked your car
for the day at a shopping mall, hospital, or work
place parking lot!
Crime Prevention Specialist
So now I’m curious is this a bogus email? Does look like a real person:
Link to this person at Sheriff’s Department
So it’s a legit person, is this vin thing legit?
While there has been at least one well-publicized case (in 2002) of an auto theft ring using a ploy similar to the above to steal vehicles from used car lots, it is a complicated and time-consuming modus operandi and not the most likely way a thief might try to steal your car.
Still, the method can work, as proven in an experiment conducted by WTAE-TV News in Pittsburgh:
Note, though, that for some models of automobiles thieves don’t even need to bother with VINs and dealerships, because they can duplicate the necessary keys all by themselves. The following excerpt from an NYPD/FBI report describes how members of another auto theft ring stole cars by crafting their own keys on the spot:
Information obtained from sources within the car theft ring indicated that Nissan Pathfinders and Toyota Forerunners were the vehicles of choice among this particular group, simply because they were easy to steal. Thieves need only to pop a door lock to obtain the ignition key code number. With this number and a portable key maker, they make a duplicate key and drive away with the vehicle within a relatively short period of time, reportedly 7 minutes or less.
So, is the advice given in the message quoted above to obscure you car’s VIN a good way of decreasing the likelihood that your automobile will be stolen? Not really, because:
* As noted above, obtaining duplicate keys through automobile dealerships is too elaborate and risky a scheme for most car thieves, so this form of crime isn’t very common.
* Also as noted above, for at least some models of cars thieves can easily create their own duplicate keys.
* The dashboard plate isn’t necessarily the only place from which a car’s VIN might be obtained. In nearly all recent models of cars, the VIN is encoded in multiple locations, such as a bar code found on the inside of the driver’s door.
* In some jurisdictions, it is against the law to obscure a car’s VIN. New York City parking regulations, for example, specify that “No person shall stand or park a vehicle that has the vehicle identification number obscured in any manner.”
So the truth is that it’s possible just probably just one of the most elaborate overly complicated way to steal cars. Unlike Bond films if criminals could afford all of the shiny toys they wouldn’t be out stealing them. While it can work it is probably one of the most unlikely ways imaginable that someone would do it. Like every plain crash gets massive news coverage but is still the safest way to travel. Airline crashes are cool looking and people watch, where car crashes and someone smashing a window to steal your car is boring.
Your car is far more likely to need protection from Vinny, maybe not Testaverde but someone who looks like him at least. And being that he played for more teams than a alcoholic cheerleader with emotional issues it’s very possible he could be wearing clothing from one of those teams. Vinny is currently backing up Tom Brady on the New England Patriots. Although he has a good chance for a super bowl ring he is unlikely to play unless someone takes out Brady’s kneecaps. Which is too bad because Vinny who is color blind, is only 16 interceptions away from the NFL record of 277.
Keep an eye out for this guy, he just might steal your car.