Thieves targeting vehicles left unattended to warm up

News source from CTV News

Ryan Flanagan, CTV Kitchener

Published Monday, January 15, 2018 5:50PM EST

Last Updated Monday, January 15, 2018 6:37PM EST

If you think starting your vehicle and then walking away with the key in the ignition is a great way to start your day, think again.

Auto experts say most vehicles need less than a minute of idling time before they’re ready to hit the roads, even on cold winter mornings – and police say leaving your car alone to warm up also increases the risk that it will be stolen.

Waterloo Regional Police received 11 reports of vehicles being stolen while they were warming up in December. There have been nine more reports in the first half of January.

Police say the practice of putting one key in the ignition and using another to lock the vehicle isn’t recommended, as the sight of a running car with keys inside may present an easy opportunity for would-be thieves.

“We’re really asking people just to stay in their vehicle when they warm up the car, and not just leave it out on their driveway or in a parking lot somewhere with it running,” Insp. Mike Haffner said in an interview.

While police say leaving your vehicle running while it’s empty isn’t safe, the Canadian Automobile Association says leaving it running at all isn’t even necessary.

Kaitlynn Furse, the manager of public relations for CAA South Central Ontario, says most motorists let their vehicle “warm up” for far longer than they have to.

“You actually only need 20 to 30 seconds to warm up your vehicle so that it’s in good working order for people to start driving,” she says.

Furse says one option for anyone worried their vehicle might freeze during extremely cold conditions is to purchase a block heater and plug it in a few hours before the car is needed, to ensure the engine is warm enough to start.

With reporting by Nicole Lampa

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