Help Eliminate Auto Theft (HEAT)


HEAT is a cooperative effort of the Virginia Department of State Police, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, and local law enforcement agencies throughout the Commonwealth. The program was established with the passage of Senate Bill 870 by the 1991 General Assembly. HEAT went online with an announcement from the Attorney General's Office on March 13, 1992.

The program operates in a manner similar to Crime Solvers, Crime Stoppers, and the Drug Hotline. The toll-free number is 800-947-HEAT (4328). Citizens call the toll-free number to report information concerning the theft of vehicles or vehicle parts or chop shop operations (one of the main targets of the program). Chop shops disassemble stolen motor vehicles and sell unnumbered, untraceable parts to repair shops. Callers remain anonymous throughout the process.

Information received from callers is passed on to the local agency (police or sheriff's department) in the jurisdiction where the illegal activity is taking place. Callers who supply tips leading to arrests are eligible for rewards of up to $25,000. The Virginia State Police Auto Theft Unit is available to assist local agencies in cases involving multi-jurisdictional operations or conspiracies. Virginia was the third state to adopt this type of proactive program. Michigan and New Jersey also have similar programs, which have been very successful.

Submit a Tip

Call 1-800-947-HEAT (4328) any time or you can fill out a form.

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) Etching - Close the Window of Opportunity

All vehicles carry a federally-assigned number known as a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Making sure those numbers are marked permanently on a vehicle's windows steers thieves away. Why? Well, for one thing, 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. And 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.

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 for good.

How HEAT Works with Virginia's Law Enforcement Agencies

After signing on as an Operation HEATWave agency, H.E.A.T. offers the following tools in which to fight vehicle theft at no cost:

  • Literature and Promotional Items
  • VIN Etching Equipment and Staff for Event Availability
  • Display Vehicles for Local Events
  • Enforcement and Surveillance Tools
  • Award Programs
  • Operation HEATWAVE - Recognizes partnering agencies for their achievements with public awareness activities and promotion of the HEAT Program.
  • LEO Awards - Law Enforcement Officers throughout the state are selected for their special efforts in auto theft reduction including Intelligence, Prevention, Enforcement, and Recoveries.
  • Operation Summer H.E.A.T. - The Top Fifty Patrol Officers with the highest combination of auto theft arrests and vehicle recoveries during the peak months of auto theft June, July, and August will be presented with awards.

Summer 2012 Revisited

Want to know what Operation HEATwave agencies are doing to promote the HEAT Program? Martinsville Sheriff Steve Draper and the Martinsville Sheriff's Office handed out promotional items during a Martinsville Mustang baseball game while advertising VIN etching they hosted the weekend following. It was a super summer success!