State police offer rewards for leads in vehicle thefts

Published 10:37 pm Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Virginia State Police are offering rewards for information about vehicle thefts in the state.

The state police’s HEAT (Help Eliminate Auto Theft) program is seeking the public’s help in putting an end to the illegal towing of abandoned, disabled or unattended vehicles. This statewide problem is the result of the rising price of scrap metal, according to a press release from the state police.

The cars and trucks that are being stolen are generally older, heavier vehicles. The cars are sold to salvage yards or demolishers for their scrap metal value.

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The vehicles are towed from the side of the road, public parking lots or private properties. It only takes up to a couple of minutes for a tow truck to hook up a car and drive off. When questioned, the driver says he is at the wrong address, but cannot provide the correct address. Or, the tow trucks pick up disabled cars from the side of the road and the car is nowhere to be found when the owner returns.

If you have any knowledge about illegal towing, contact the HEAT hotline at or call 1-800-947-HEAT. If you have information that leads to an arrest, you may be eligible for a reward of up to $25,000 and you will remain anonymous.

The HEAT program also offers the following advice to help Virginia citizens keep their vehicles:

  • Always lock your vehicle and take the keys.
  • Park in a well-lit area.
  • If you have a front-wheel-drive vehicle, pull into the parking space. Rear-wheel-drive vehicles should be backed into the parking space. Always set the emergency brake.
  • Don’t leave disabled vehicles abandoned on the side of the road. Call a reputable tow truck operator or contact local law enforcement or the Virginia State Police.
  • Tow truck operators may attempt to coerce drivers into surrendering their vehicle, which may result in the vehicle being shredded or held for exorbitant storage and recovery fees.
  • Drivers should record all information about the tow truck, including tow truck company name and phone number, the truck’s tag number, the operator’s name and the tow truck’s description.
  • The company name and phone number must be displayed on the side of the truck. Drivers should not let anyone tow their vehicle if that information is not prominently displayed.