Ever leave your car running to warm it up? Beware thieves

Categories: Crime
CarTowSnow.jpg
Robert S. Donovan
You could come back to this instead of a warm car.
It's one of these cold winter mornings, and you start your car to let it warm up while you head back inside to finish your coffee.

When you come back outside, ready to leave, your car is gone.

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Police have seen scenarios like that spike in recent weeks. In the 3rd Precinct -- the section of south Minneapolis east of I-35W -- 17 vehicles were stolen in the week-long stretch between December 10 and December 18. Eleven of those cars had been left running unattended.

"As the weather gets colder, auto thefts increase," says Rowena Holmes, a crime prevention specialist for the 4th Precinct. "I'm seeing at least several per week."

It's one thing for a thief to break into a car and then have to figure out how to start it. But when a car is left running, even if it's locked, a thief can break a window or jimmy the door in seconds, and then drive off.

"It's a huge temptation," says Holmes. "It's like taking candy from a baby. The car is there. They need a ride, or they want a ride, they just take the car."

Police are often able to recover stolen cars, Holmes says, but not before the thieves damage them or steal things out of them.

If your car is recovered and your keys are in it, you might also get a ticket. It's against city ordinance to leave a key in the ignition if you're not in the car, and officers have been issuing $34 tickets to cars running without a driver around.

Remote car starters are legal, but may still tempt thieves.

The best thing to do in the cold: Just deal with being cold, and follow standard car procedure. "Turn your car off," says Holmes. "Lock your car, and take your keys."
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70 comments
Donald Robert Hall
Donald Robert Hall

Think it is ok with auto start because the keys are not in it. Don't think there is any other legal option.

VelvetGreene1
VelvetGreene1

@citypages yeah, I love when dudes do that at the gas station. If I'm ever desperate, I know right where to get paid ;)

Leonard Hanson
Leonard Hanson

maybe some of the little vermitous scum that steal cars should be drawn and quartered in the street, and their filthy guts sent home to their mommies in a plactic drum to render and fertilize the garden in the spring? hmmm. just a thought?

Karel Schaap
Karel Schaap

The newest cars won't let you drive it if you don't have the FOB with you, even if it's running.

Andy Stealth Trattar
Andy Stealth Trattar

You mean just leaving my vehicle unattended while running isn't a smart idea?! Who would've thought?...

Mike Underhill
Mike Underhill

In the old days, horse thieves would be hung because you're taking away a man's transportation, his livelihood and his ability to protect his family all in one. Today, cars are much like this. Why don't we hang a few and shoot a few more and that'll be the end of the car stealing.

Kirsten Kalamanski
Kirsten Kalamanski

People need to just suck it up and sit in their car while it warms up. After letting it run for a good 30-45 seconds, you can start driving it. Besides, it warms up faster when you're driving it. I have parked outside for a good few years and have been through some chilly winters. Be grateful that you have a car and don't have to walk to work when it's below zero. Geez....

Sujan Kumar Mathur
Sujan Kumar Mathur

Luckily the car i bought off craigslist had it installed with the previous owner

Sujan Kumar Mathur
Sujan Kumar Mathur

well doesn't always work. My fiancé's car won't let you even lock the door with the door open as a safety feature. Lucky we have a hidden lot, so it's ok to keep it running.

almasmom
almasmom

What is the recommended method when one has a baby and/or small children? It seems awful to stick them in the back seat of a freezing car, especially as the car seat manufactures remind us not to dress children in puffy or bulky clothing, for maximum safety. I still have not figured out the best alternative to just running out and starting the car, then running back in and getting everyone ready. I know it is not smart to leave a running car, but it is easier to just bundle up and walk than sit motionless in a Minnesota winter morning car. When I am alone though, absolutely I can tough it out. But even just taking off my gloves so I can work the car seat buckles that are frozen sounds like 'oh, woe is freaking me, boo hoo' but it is kind of awful!

really
really

do you live in a "diverse" neighborhood? if yes, then don't leave your car running. 

Paul Whyte
Paul Whyte

It's probably an expensive program, but other cities do have "bait cars."

Chad Liljegren
Chad Liljegren

I got my car stolen once. Cops did NOTHING expect harrass me and said it was my fault cause it was not in the garage. I found the car about a mile from our house. When I got in it I found a fake Rolex and a bag of weed.

Laurel Richmond
Laurel Richmond

Lots of insurance companies won't cover a loss if there were keys in the car. Another reason to stay in your car!

Richard Beyer
Richard Beyer

I like to warm it up, get the frost off the windows, and NOT crash...

Jeremy Hop
Jeremy Hop

Exactly... Gasoline engines do not need to sit idle to warm up. Diesel engines, this is another situation as I don't know for sure.

Bec Salmonson
Bec Salmonson

Rarely let run ib driveway but I fear even when not running.

KirbysLeftEye
KirbysLeftEye

@panopticon13 Wait, people can steal your car if you keep it running while you're not around? Woah! Thanks for alerting me to this.

LynniAnn
LynniAnn

The laws against letting your car to run to warm are just nanny state laws that make the victim pay for the bad actions of criminals.  Typical democratic behavior.

Lisa Miller
Lisa Miller

With automatic start, there is no key and the car shuts off when the brakes are applied to shift. Highly recommended.

Gary Welsh
Gary Welsh

Damn Jeremiah Welter I won't park next to you with my new car

Betty
Betty

Minneapolis, Saint Paul and several suburbs operate bait car programs.

DanBrookens
DanBrookens

@KirbysLeftEye Now that's something I never do. Doors pretty much always unlocked, but never leave keys in. Too tempting for dumbass kids.

KirbysLeftEye
KirbysLeftEye

@DanBrookens Hey, I grew up in one of the nicer/nicest neighborhoods in Minneapolis and my Mom used to keep her keys in the car all the time

DanBrookens
DanBrookens

@KirbysLeftEye I kinda like that whole "It might come as a shock" bit, though. I'll have to remember that.

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