H.E.A.T. educates citizens on how to prevent theft of vehicles and their parts, a crime that cost Virginians millions of dollars each year. H.E.A.T. also trains local law enforcement officers and provides support by supplying equipment, promotional materials and more to assist in the fight against auto thieves.

The Suffolk Sheriff's Office is proudly participating in a cooperative effort with the Virginia Department of State Police, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and local law enforcement agencies throughout the Commonwealth to prevent auto theft. We are urging you to help us in our continued effort to have a safe community by taking a few moments to know the facts.

The following tips may prevent you from losing your car to a thief or unknowingly buying a "hot" car:

  • Lock your car - Keeping your car locked at all times creates an obstacle for the thief.
  • Never leave keys in car - Keys left in any vehicle are like leaving a sign stating "steal me."
  • Park In a well-lighted area - Thieves prefer to work under cover of darkness and generally avoid areas where they can easily be seen.
  • Turn off Car when leaving it - Never leave your car running while dashing into a store
  • Identify your vehicle - Using a dye marker, write your name, address and vehicle identification number (VIN) under the hood or trunk.
  • More identification - Hide business cards or home address labels on the bottom of floor mats and under the seat. Business cards also can be dropped down window channels and into the door interior.
  • Title and registration - Keep your title and registration in a safe place. These documents can be stolen and used to make a "hot" car legitimate.
  • Sound the alarm - Several types of alarms are available which sound a warning if someone breaks into your car. Test it periodically to make sure it works.
  • Use anti-theft devices - They create delays and buy time. The longer it takes thieves to steal a vehicle, the more likely they are to be discouraged or caught. There are a variety of these devices on the market, including ignition cutoff switches, fuel cut off devices, and steering wheel locks.
  • Hot deals - Keep an eye out for suspicious deals that seem "too good to be true." A fresh paint job on a late model car is a tip off as is a seller who doesn't have manufacturer made keys. People who couldn't resist a "hot bargain" have ended up losing both the stolen car and the money they paid for it.
  • Get involved - If you see a theft in progress, report it immediately to the police. If you have knowledge of auto theft activity including stolen parts or "hot" deals, report it by calling 800-947-HEAT - in addition to being a good citizen, you may receive a reward. Remember, if you don't report it, you're a part of it. For more information, visit the Virginia State Police website.

How It Works

H.E.A.T. provide a 24 hours 7 days a week toll-free number 800-947-4328 for citizens to call to report information concerning the theft of vehicles. Callers remain anonymous throughout the process and tips leading to arrests are eligible for rewards of up to $25,000.

VIN Etching - Closing the Window of Opportunity

All vehicles carry a federally assigned number known as a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Vin Etching is simple, fast, safe relatively inexpensive and won't mar the look of the vehicle. Numbers are etched into the glass with a chemical solution, and those numbers will be there permanently. 

Making sure those numbers are marked permanently on a vehicle's windows steers thieves away. Why? Disposing of a vehicle whose windows have been VIN etched takes time, trouble and money all in short supply for thieves. That's because the windows of stolen VIN etched vehicles must be stripped and replaced before a thief can get rid of the car, a costly and time-consuming process. 

VIN Etching obliterates any potential profit professional thieves might have gleaned from the lucrative practice of selling windows and windshields for parts via chop shops.