Vehicle Warm-up Thefts

January 04, 2018

Dear Colleagues:

During cold weather spells it's often tempting to warm up one's car for a few minutes before heading home. Unfortunately, vehicles left running unattended, even for "a minute or two," are tempting targets for thieves.

A 2017 report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau showed that one out of eight stolen vehicles had the keys left inside -- 57,000 in just one year.

From a practical point of view, following a few simple steps will help ensure that your car will be there waiting for you when it's time to go home:

  • Never leave your car running unattended with the keys in the ignition.
  • Park your car in a well-lit space.
  • If you have an anti-theft device of any type, be sure to use it.
  • Keep valuables out of sight.
  • Make sure your car is locked and all the windows are rolled up.

By the way, in most cases, leaving a vehicle running unattended is also illegal under Maryland law. Excepted from the rule are vehicles equipped with remote starting functionality, which may be left running -- without the keys inside -- for up to five minutes.

Good luck navigating these cold winter days, and please be safe.


Martinez Q. Davenport, MS
Interim Chief, UMB Police Force

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