July, 2009Bionic ears, night vision gear and thermal imaging equipment are on the El Paso Police Department's shopping list after receiving an $80,000 grant from The Allstate Foundation. The grant is helping the El Paso County Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention Task Force arm officers with advanced auto theft prevention and surveillance equipment. Nationally, El Paso County's auto theft ranking jumped 13 spots between 2007 and 2008 according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. El Paso police and citizens now battle the 17th highest vehicle theft rate in the country and the second highest in Texas behind only Laredo.
"When criminals are armed with the latest technology and equipment, we must be equipped with the most up-to-date reconnaissance tools to reverse the trend," said Lt. Marc Medina with the El Paso Police Department's Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention Task Force. "The funding will help us strengthen our fight to prevent auto theft, while helping place the people responsible behind bars."
The thermal imaging device will allow officers to see suspects concealed in a vehicle. The device can also detect if a vehicle has been mobile or stationary by the heat emitted from the vehicle's engine. Police say the imager will also enhance officer safety by allowing detectives and officers to maintain a safe distance and still keep eyes on a suspect or vehicle.
The night vision tools will improve police abilities to conduct surveillance in low light areas and better observe criminal activity during night time hours.
"This partnership is an extension of the Allstate Good Hands Promise to help all members of society feel better protected today," said Janemarie Clark, Texas manager for The Allstate Foundation. "Increasing auto theft risk is a problem that impacts the entire community and together we can work toward building a safer community and raising public awareness."
In addition to the check presentation, the El Paso Police Department and The Allstate Foundation partnered for a free VIN etching event for the community. VIN etching tags vehicle identification numbers on parts of the car - making it nearly impossible for thieves to profit from selling windows and windshields and making it more difficult for thieves to find a way to dispose of the vehicle once it has been stolen.
Allstate Foundation Facts
Established in 1952, The Allstate Foundation is an independent, charitable organization made possible by subsidiaries of The Allstate Corporation. Allstate and The Allstate Foundation sponsor community initiatives to promote "safe and vital communities"; "tolerance, inclusion, and diversity"; and "economic empowerment." The Allstate Foundation believes in the financial potential of every individual and in helping America's families achieve their American dream.