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HEAT Program Holiday Prevention Campaign Hits Silver Screen on Black Friday

Vehicle Stolen Each Hour in Virginia during 2017 Black Friday

RICHMOND, Va. – To help protect Virginians from falling victim to vehicle thefts this holiday season, the Virginia State Police (VSP) Help Eliminate Auto Theft (HEAT) program is rolling out the red carpet with a prevention video. The HEAT Public Service Announcement (PSA) will make its silver screen debut today, “Black Friday,”  in theatres across Virginia. Friday was chosen as the PSA’s release date due to the fact that 23 vehicles were stolen in Virginia on Black Friday last year. That equates to almost one vehicle every hour stolen from a Virginia parking lot or driveway.

“With so many new films coming out this holiday, we hope to reach thousands of moviegoers with this impactful and essential safety message,” said First Sgt. Thomas Molnar, HEAT Program Coordinator. “This PSA is extremely relevant to the busy holiday season as it reminds drivers and passengers of the consequences of the seemingly innocent action of leaving your car unlocked and idling.”

Moviegoers at theatres in Hampton, Norfolk, Lynchburg and the metro-Richmond region will be treated to the 30-second PSA during movie previews. “An idle car is stolen features a driver becoming a victim of auto theft when he commits the most common mistake this time of year – leaving his idling car unattended at a convenience store. Starting Thanksgiving weekend through the end of December, the PSA will be playing in the following theatres: Regal River Ridge (Lynchburg), Valley View Grande (Lynchburg), Cinemark 18 (Norfolk), Hampton 24 (Hampton), Commonwealth Stadium 20 (Midlothian), Shortpump Stadium 14 (Henrico) and Westchester Common 16 (Midlothian).

The HEAT program is also hosting special holiday giveaways on its Facebook (@VSPHEAT) page, along with key auto theft prevention tips, to further encourage Virginians to safeguard their vehicles.

“Drivers are more likely this time of year to leave their cars unattended with the engine running, especially on chilly mornings, or leave valuables and holiday gifts in plain sight inside their vehicles,” explained Molnar. “You run a much greater risk of having your vehicle stolen when you leave your keys in a parked or idling vehicle. Such actions make your vehicle an easy target for thieves.”

Statistics from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) state that nearly 1 in 4 vehicles stolen in Virginia have the keys inside, which is why the HEAT program recommends the following safety tips for this holiday season:

· Take your keys and lock your doors every time you leave your vehicle.

· Never leave valuables in plain sight in your vehicle. Place them in the trunk or somewhere out of sight.

· Be aware of your surroundings when out and about.

· Park in well-lit areas.

· Invest in an audible or visible deterrent. Install GPS or other tracking devices.

Learn more about the HEAT program at HEATreward.com or view the 2017 Virginia Motor Vehicle Theft Statistics

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The Virginia State Police Help Eliminate Auto Theft (HEAT) program was established in 1992 to educate citizens and law enforcement about the theft of vehicles and vehicle parts. For more information, visit HEATreward.com. Visit Virginia State Police online at www.vsp.virginia.gov.

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