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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Would you take 10 minutes to do something that won’t cost you a penny and may make it less likely for your car to be stolen?

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AAA is offering a tried and true service for free.

VIN glass etching is almost impossible to see, but it’s a major red flag for would-be car thieves.

“Somebody who is an auto thief or a chop shop, for instance, they will know to look for the etching,” AAA Community Relations Manager Jim Garrity said.

Over the next couple of weeks, two AAA locations will use a piece of tape and an acid wash to etch the vehicle identification number around the car.

“It’s actually been done for many, many years, but kind of stopped for a while, and this is our second season that we are going to be doing VIN etching,” Terri Rae Anthony, of AAA’s Safety Team, said.

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Garrity said they have heard of places charging as much as $200 for VIN etching. But whether you are member or not, AAA is offering the service for free on the following dates:

  • Aug. 29 at the Monroeville office from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Sept. 6 at the South Hills office from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“The whole process takes about 10 minutes. When you get in, it’s easy. You stop into a branch, you sign in, you sign a waiver form, and we get to work on your car,” Garrity said.

Each of the six to 10 labels contains your VIN. Those labels are applied to all the glass on the car.

“Actually, it is done with an acid solution. Looks like a bingo dobber, and it’s very easy to do,” Anthony said.

Five minutes later, the tape comes off – leaving behind a permanent put-off for crooks.

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“To replace all the windows on a car, it can be pretty expensive. That’s why it’s one extra step you can take to help deter car theft,” Garrity said.