Cars Left Running Are Easy Targets for Thieves - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

01/07/04

Cars Left Running Are Easy Targets for Thieves

Are you a target for crime? You might be setting yourself up and not even know it. If you start your car on cold mornings and go back inside the house to wait for it to warm up, police say beware. Just this morning, two cars were stolen, and with the weather getting colder, police expect this type of auto theft to get even worse.

Richard Nyberg of Savannah does it every time. He leaves his house, gets into his vehicle and cranks the motor then heads back inside while it warms up. "I normally don't even think about that early in the morning," he said. "I just know when I go out there and get in if the windows are frozen, it's cold."

Nyberg's not alone. It's a common problem during this time of year that invites criminals to commit one of the easiest types of crime. "It presents an easy target of opportunity for those individuals who are looking for a vehicle to steal," said Sgt. Mike Wilson of Savannah-Chatham police. "There's nothing easier to steal than a vehicle that's already running with the key in the ignition."

You're not only inviting crime by leaving your car running and unattended, but you're also committing one. That's because it's actually a misdemeanor to leave your unattended car running, and police also say all these things combined can cost you a lot of money.

"They may possibly incur storage fees because the vehicle may happen to be stored at an impound yard or wrecker yard," explained Wilson. "There's also the possibility that if the vehicle is not recovered what your insurance company is going to do if they determine that you in fact aided in or even offered some assistance to it by leaving the keys in it with the engine running."

So the next time you crank your vehicle just to warm it up, you might want to ask yourself if it's worth the risk.  If you do get a ticket for leaving your car running unattended, the fine can cost you up to $100.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen, nteigen@wtoc.com

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