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State Drives Motorists to "Watch Your Car"

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RALEIGH — Cars are probably the second biggest investment people will ever make. Car thieves are happy to take them away very quickly. Thursday, theNorth Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safetypresented the "Watch Your Car" campaign as a new way to help motorists stop the thieves.

An insurance company staged a demonstration on how "chop shops" can quickly strip stolen vehicles for enormous profit. They showed how some thieves are not just after the radio or hub caps.

"In North Carolina a car is stolen every 22 minutes," Secretary of Crime Control and Public SafetyRichard Mooresaid.

Every statistical angle proves car theft is a bad problem and getting worse. Several other states are attacking the problem with a sticker. Moore announced North Carolina would join the 11 states and institute the program.

"This decal alerts local and state law enforcement that the owner of this vehicle does not drive, as most of us don't, their cars between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., which is the time that statistics show us the car is most likely to be stolen," Moore said.

Insurance statistics for North Carolina show newer model sport utility vehicles and mini vans are most likely to be stolen.

The demonstration crew began with a 1986 Chrysler worth only $2,700 to prove that older cars can also be profitable to thieves with tools.

"Now as you can see, the parts that are laying on the ground here could be worth in excess of $15,000," Moore said.

"More than 60 law enforcement departments in North Carolina have already agreed to participate in this program," said Tony Queen, director of the Crime Prevention Division. "We hope that as the program spreads, it will make a difference."

Nationally, most vehicles that are stolen are either shipped overseas, stripped for parts by chop shops, or resold to unsuspecting customers.

"Watch Your Car" is being funded initially by a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance. This federal model is based upon state programs in Fayetteville, N.C., Texas, Florida and Illinois.

People interested in registering their car in the "Watch Your Car" program can call their local law enforcement agencies. They will provide a sticker for the front and rear windows of your car.

From staff and wire reports.

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Rick Armstrong, Reporter
Rick Armstrong, Photographer
Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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