Free VIN Burning Can Save Your Vehicle As Auto Theft Rises


You don’t have to live on the west side of Grand Rapids, or even Kent County to do this, as it’s accessible to anyone in western Michigan.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — More and more cars are being stolen in Grand Rapids.

Kias and Hyundais with standard key ignitions are targeted because they’re easier to steal, but these brands aren’t the only ones being stolen, so law enforcement is encouraging you to take action.

According to the Grand Rapids Police Department, the number of car thefts per year in the city has more than doubled since 2018.

“Since May 1, we’ve had approximately 122 Kias and Hyundais stolen here in the city of Grand Rapids,” the GRPD Sgt. Jim Wojczynski. “These are actual vehicle thefts and/or attempted vehicle thefts.”

While typical theft prevention methods like locking your doors and keeping your keys with you are still good, the West Grand Neighborhood Organization wants to help you go the extra mile with VIN engraving.

“It lets someone know that this car has been marked and it’s easier to find it,” says Vandenberg. “So, like, if they tried to remove the metal plate or whatever, it’s just easier to trace if the car was stolen.”

The VIN is your vehicle’s identification number. It acts like the fingerprint of the car, no two cars have the same. So placing it in multiple places on your vehicle makes it easier for the police to find if it’s been stolen and encourages thieves to stay away.

“We put it on every window in the car except for the very small windows,” Vandenberg says. “It’s acid etching, it doesn’t harm the car or the glass in any way. It’s light etching, but it’s not removable.”

The GRPD states that stolen cars are usually taken for a specific reason.

“These vehicles are used in shootings and a variety of other violent crimes,” said Sgt. Wojczynski.

According to Vandenberg, most cars reported stolen have at least one thing in common.

“Nearly all car owners don’t have their VIN engraved,” she says.

The West Grand Neighborhood Organization works with local dealerships to have the VIN engraved on cars before they are sold, but will also do this for your vehicle free of charge. You don’t have to live on the west side of Grand Rapids, or even Kent County to do this, it’s available to everyone in West Michigan.

To make an appointment, you can call (616) 451-0150, email [email protected], or do it online by clicking here.

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