For a few automobile owners in Philadelphia, seeing flashing red and blue lights in the rearview mirror late at night actually can put them at ease. As part of a new program called Project SAVE, car owners can put decals on the car which request that the officer pull the car over between midnight and 6 a.m. Project SAVE -- Stolen Auto Verification Effort -- is a program organized by the Philadelphia Police Department to reduce the amount of vehicles that are stolen in Philadelphia, according to Officer Margaret Gerini of the 18th Police District. Police do not guarantee that a car registered in this program will never be stolen, but cars with SAVE decals are less likely targets for thieves, Gerini said. By affixing SAVE stickers to the rear window of a car, the owner gives police permission to stop the vehicle during the hours of 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. A participant receives two yellow decals, approximately sixteen inches square, which are numbered to correspond with the registration form and indicate the owner's home police district. When police officers pull a car over, the driver must present proof of ownership or tell to the officers the name and address of the car's owner. If unable to do either, the driver will be taken to the nearest police station. Officers then call the car's registered owner who can either grant permission to the driver over the telephone or press charges against the driver at the police station. Gerini said a participant on even a quick trip late at night could see the program at work. "It's possible to be stopped five times even if one is seen driving a registered car during a midnight food run," Gerini said. Project SAVE began at one precinct in Philadelphia over two years ago, and is now operating throughout the city. Because of community support and publicity from newspapers and television stations, over 9400 cars have been registered in the program, Gerini said. She added that of those cars, 20 have been stolen in the past three years and 17 of them have been recovered. To register for Project SAVE, the owner brings the car and the current registration card to their local police station. The station that covers the University's area is located at 61st and Pine streets. The owner must sign a waiver allowing the police to pull the car over during the designated hours. The owner also provides a list of other approved drivers. Students who drive cars owned by their parents must obtain a notarized letter from the parents granting permission to participate in the program. Gerini said there were benefits of the program beyond the recovery aspect. The decals themselves are a deterrent to thieves, she said. And when police see a SAVE car struck by another or when they see a criminal tampering with a SAVE car, the officers are able to quickly identify the owner. Presently, only four University students are participating in Project SAVE, Gerini said. However, the officers from the 18th Police District, together with officers from University Police, plan to set up a workshop informing students about the program sometime during this semester. While some students said that they believed such a program could be successful, others, like Wharton freshman David Fiorino said that the program would not suit college students. "It isn't aimed for college students, but for those that aren't out often between 12 and 6," Fiorino said.Comments powered by Disqus
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