Sheriff’s office puts the HEAT on auto theft

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 28, 2002

Suffolk’s Sheriff’s Department took top honors in promoting &uot;Operation HEAT Wave,&uot; a program to educate the public on prevention of auto theft.

This award is the fourth time the Sheriff’s Department has taken a first place win. The sheriff’s office is the agency in this city sponsoring the educational events promoting public awareness of how to help prevent vehicular thefts.

Working in conjunction with Virginia State Police, Sheriff Raleigh H. Isaacs Sr. and his deputies conduct activities throughout each year to teach citizens of Suffolk how to Help Eliminate Auto Theft (HEAT).


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&uot;HEAT is a great program and we are proud to have been part of it again in 2001,&uot; said Isaacs. &uot;We have been working hard again this year on projects as we continue to educate people about how they can use the toll-free hotline to report auto thefts and chop-shop operations.&uot;

The HEAT program works much like the &uot;Crime Line&uot; program in that callers do not have to give their names when calling law enforcement with information. If their information leads to an arrest, they are paid up to $10,000 reward.

HEAT was established in 1991, and since that time Isaacs and his deputies have visited many churches, clubs, civic groups and other groups to promote the program. Deputy Sheriff Sergeant Robert Vaughan presented the program during a Fall Festival at Nansemond River Baptist Church at Sleepy Hole Park last Saturday and as Vaughan noted, they have many more activities scheduled for the remainder of the year.

In another promotion, Deputy Troy Babb recently entered a vehicle in the Peanut Fest Demolition Derby. The vehicle was painted with both the HEAT logo and a logo for &uot;EXILE,&uot; a program sponsored by the office of Suffolk’s Commonwealth’s Attorney, C. Phillips Ferguson. EXILE promotes the fact that using a gun or possession of a gun by certain people can result in a mandatory five years in prison. The sheriff and commonwealth’s attorney felt the car was an excellent way to promote both their programs since thousands of people attend Peanut Fest.

In fact, the Division 5 (Hampton Roads) HEAT award was presented to Suffolk’s Sheriff’s office because of that demolition derby car.

&uot;Each year, I challenge my staff to come up with new ways to promote auto theft prevention and last year, they came up with a great idea,&uot; said Isaacs. &uot;Deputy Troy Babb used a car to promote the program. He suggested we enter a car in the Demolition Derby at Peanut Fest and Somerton Used Auto and Towing donated the vehicle, a Ford Escort. Deputy Salmon’s family helped with the work and his parents donated the paint. He then drove the vehicle in the derby and came out in first place.&uot;

Isaacs said people in Suffolk have been receptive of the HEAT program.

Funding for Suffolk’s HEAT program comes from an assessment of insurance carriers writing comprehensive automobile insurance in the state. Those assessments are 25 cents per $100 of comprehensive insurance written in the Commonwealth.

As for the award to the Suffolk Sheriff’s office, Senior Special Agent Randy D. Beeson, HEAT program administrator, said he is grateful for the support and cooperation received from law enforcement agencies throughout the state.

&uot;Without their help, our efforts to reduce auto theft wouldn’t be nearly as successful,&uot; said Beeson.

For more information on the HEAT program, or to have the sheriff or a deputy speak at your meeting, call 923-2200.