Sheriff’s Office helps locals “fingerprint” their vehicles

Published 5:20 pm Friday, April 21, 2023

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Local residents joined the effort to protect their vehicles Saturday by getting them “fingerprinted.”

This process, which involved etching the vehicle identification number into the car windows is a new way authorities are working to prevent auto theft.

The Suffolk Sheriff’s Office partnered with the Virginia State Police and Walmart for a VIN etching and meet and greet event Saturday, April 15, at the 1200 N. Main St. Walmart.

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During the event, Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney Narendra R. Pleas explained that this new etching process doesn’t cause any negative effects to vehicles.

“It’s just a chemical that will permanently etch your VIN number, which is already on your vehicle and display [it], and some people may not even know that you can actually see your VIN from outside. But this actually puts it on the windows, and again it’s a theft deterrent,” Pleas said. “Just like we encourage people to lock their cars, to put away valuable items that are out of sight, this is just another tool that people can use to keep them and their car safe.”

Treasurer Ronald H. Williams thanked Sheriff E.C. Harris for having him and Chief Deputy Treasurer Andrew Owen at the VIN etching event. 

“We actually planned this event about five years ago, and it got rained out and then the pandemic hit,” Williams said. “So we’re picking up from there.”

He said it is nice the sheriff’s office included all the constitutional officers.

“It’s nice to have all the elected constitutional officers out supporting the community. This etching is such a valuable resource, we really appreciate being able to be part of it,” Williams said.

Joining Harris, Pleas and Williams at Saturday’s event were Commissioner of the Revenue Susan L. Draper and Clerk of Circuit Court W. Randolph “Randy” Carter Jr. 

As part of the meet and greet, Williams and his fellow constitutional officers connected with citizens while also giving away gift bags with information that could be of use to them, including tax relief programs, dog tags and vaccinations.

“We hope that information will be something that they can put in the hands of somebody that can take advantage of either the tax relief, or to make sure that another dog gets vaccinated and is licenced properly so it keeps a healthier community,” Williams said.

Chief Deputy Owen also stressed that sharing this information with others can be important.

“While they may themselves not directly benefit from the information we give out, they certainly know somebody who will,” said Owen.

Carter and Draper these types of activities are great for them to get to know citizens.

“It’s a good way of showing off that the constitutional officers do serve the citizens of Suffolk and that we do provide services. And it’s a chance also to meet the folks up-close and personal, which is a good thing,” Carter said. “We all try to work together in tandem to provide the best services we can for all the citizens, in our varying capacities.”

Draper added that it is important for residents to get to know their elected officials.

“I like people to know that I am approachable,” Draper said. “Any time that they need something to call, drop by the office. If they see me out in public, it doesn’t matter. I am always on, I am always available for the citizens,” 

Pleas hopes the meet and greet benefits those who attended.

“I hope people, one, get to meet their constitutional officers right? Because many people don’t know who we are and what we do. Two, what we do. That’s very important because I’ve already been called the city attorney. I am not the city attorney, so just for clarification!” Pleas said with a smile sharing the humor in how people confuse that role with hers as the city’s lead prosecutor.

“This is just another way for me not to see people at my work, because that usually means something bad has happened and none of us want that,” she said. “I am hoping that’s one of the big takeaways from this.”