Idling cars make nice Christmas presents for criminals

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – The Salt Lake City Police Department is asking residents to keep a close eye on their vehicles while they’re left idling as they’ve seen a increase in car thefts over the last month.

Vehicle theft in Salt Lake City have increased by 31% over the last 4 weeks.  That number is representative of all car thefts, not just of those that were stolen while they were left running.  Police have received about 21 stolen vehicle reports over the last few weeks and receive about 300 stolen vehicle reports every year.

During the winter months it’s common practice for owners to start up their vehicles and leave them running while they warm up, but it’s also the perfect opportunity for criminals to take advantage and make off with your car.

The Salt Lake City Police Department is reminding residents to be extra careful when leaving their vehicles running.

“Just yesterday we had four cars stolen and two of them were left idling, we’re doing an update every day, again, just to get this message out to the public. It’s not stopped and it’s not slowed down so just hoping that people will listen to us and stay in their car while it’s warming up,” says Det. Veronica Montoya with the Salt Lake City Police Department.

They’re asking residents to always remain nearby if they leave their car idling or to keep a close eye on their vehicle through a window if they have to go back inside.  The best advice they can give is to remain inside your car for the two minutes while it warms up.

“If you bundle up a little bit warmer and sit in your car while it’s warming up, I really understand why they’re doing it but it’s just, we are already starting to get stolen vehicles, but we want you to see the difference between vehicles being stolen whether they’re idling or not but, then we’re doubling those stolen vehicles by having these running vehicles,” says Montoya.

Leaving your vehicle idling for long periods of time not only makes them vulnerable for criminals but it is also bad for the environment.  Salt Lake City has a city ordinance that prohibits leaving vehicles idling for longer than two minutes within city limits.  Although, there are exceptions for example when the temperature dips below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Finally, the Salt Lake City police is asking you to never leave the keys or anything valuable inside your car.  Often times those stolen vehicles are recovered a few days later but those valuable are long gone.

The Salt Lake City Police Department will be updating their numbers daily and are using the #DontGiveYourCar away hashtag to help the public track their numbers on Twitter.


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