FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEBJA
MONDAY, OCTOBER 6, 1997202/307-0703

BJA AWARDS FUNDS TO SIX STATES TO PREVENT MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT

Agency Also Hosts National Training Conference on Motor Vehicle Theft

WASHINGTON, D.C.--As part of its Crime Prevention Month activities, the Justice Department announced today that it will award over $860,000 to six states to help them prevent auto theft. The grants, administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), are being made under the Watch Your Car Program, which uses decals to mark cars that are not normally operated during certain times of the day or in the vicinity of international land borders or ports.

The grants to Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Tennessee are being made under the Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Act. Similar grants were made to Arizona and New Mexico in FY 1996. The grant funds enable the states to produce and distribute decals to program participants.

"Motor vehicle theft is a serious, costly problem," said BJA Director Nancy Gist. "These decals will work as a crime prevention tool--telling would-be car thieves and authorities that, after certain hours and in certain places, the vehicle is not supposed to be on the road. The Watch Your Car Program allows car owners to go to bed at night knowing they have done all they can to prevent their cars from being stolen."

Residents who opt to participate in the Watch Your Car Program receive a decal from their State Department of Motor Vehicles. Information about the vehicles registered in the

program is kept in a state database that is instantly accessible to law enforcement officials at all times. If an officer sees a vehicle with the decals when or where it shouldn't be, the car can be stopped and the driver questioned. Also, if an officer sees a car without the decals being operated in a suspicious manner and finds it in the Watch Your Car database, the car can also be stopped to determine if the owner of the car is the person driving it.

Also, from October 5-7, 1997, in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the State of Arizona, BJA is sponsoring a national conference on motor vehicle theft prevention. The conference will provide a forum for state and federal officials to exchange ideas, program information, and approaches employed to combat auto theft. The conference will include presentations by state and federal auto theft prevention experts, representatives of insurance and automobile trade associations, and state and local law enforcement officials that participate on auto theft prevention task forces.

The attached chart includes the amount each state will receive, a local contact for each grant, and the contact's phone number. For additional information about the Watch Your Car program or BJA, visit its website at:

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bja

# # #

BJA97-123

After hours page Doug Johnson at 1-888/582-6753

WATCH YOUR CAR PROGRAM

STATE
AMOUNT
CONTACT
PHONE
Florida
$150,000
Christine Sullivan-Lutz
850/414-3351
Maryland
$150,000
W. Ray Presley
301/729-5274
New Jersey
$149,721
Detective Wayne Price
609/877-0241
New York
$150,000
Gary Schreivogl
518/457-8462
North Carolina
$113,632
Anthony E. Queen
919/733-5522
Tennessee
$150,000
David Dweek
615/532-2987

Total: $863,353