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Public Awareness and Auto-Theft Prevention: Getting It Right for the Wrong Reason

NCJ Number
Security Journal Volume: 10 Issue: 2 Dated: March 1998 Pages: 59-64
R Wortley; R Kane; F Gant
Date Published
6 pages
This article evaluates a public awareness campaign aimed at encouraging the use of car security measures.
In response to the increasing rate of auto theft, the Queensland Police Service, in partnership with major insurance companies and motorist organizations, developed Project HEAT (Help Eliminate Auto Theft). The public awareness campaign particularly encouraged the use of Vehicle Identification Number etching on car windows. The predominant advertising medium was television, although support was also received from regional newspapers and magazines. The project received additional exposure through other police-oriented initiatives such as neighborhood watch meetings, Crime Stoppers and crime prevention training courses. The campaign coincided with an immediate reduction in the incidence of auto theft. However, there did not appear to be any significant change in the behavior of car owners which would account for the reduction. Rather, the reduction may have come about through an increased perception of risk that the campaign generated among potential car thieves. Figures, tables, references