January 23, 2003

More cars stolen during sub-zero weather

Livonia, Michigan – An auto-theft prevention program, Help Eliminate Auto Thefts (HEAT), is warning drivers not to leave their doors unlocked and their cars running during sub-zero temperatures.

“Whenever we see sub-zero weather, we see a rise in cars being stolen — at gas stations and even right out of people’s driveways — because people are trying to take a shortcut to stay warm,” said Lt. Robert Ennis of the Detroit Police Department Commercial Auto Theft Section. “It is tempting to keep your car running when you run in to pay for your gas, but you are making it very easy for someone to steal your car while you are inside.”

Lansing, Michigan police have reported a spike in cars being stolen at homes and stores, and police say a great number of them are cars left running unattended in the cold weather. “We are seeing a lot of cars being stolen at gas stations and convenience stores this winter,” said Lt. Steve Person of the Lansing Police Department. “A car left running while the owner is getting a coffee in the morning becomes a great break for an opportunistic car thief.”

HEAT has offered some simple auto theft prevention tips for a safe winter:

  • Remember to lock your doors, take your keys from the ignition and don’t leave your car running unattended – all common sense rules that drivers often ignore when temperatures drop.

    • If you are insistent on running your car in the morning to warm up before you leave your house, install an automatic starter, which allows you to run your car without keys in the ignition and the doors locked.

    • Don’t tempt thieves! Never leave your keys in the ignition or on the seat and put away valuables — such as laptops and cell phones — even when just running into a store.
    • A second layer of auto protection is recommended — such as audible alarms, steering wheel locks, and Vehicle Identification Number etchings — to discourage auto thieves.

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