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Don't leave your car running to warm up: WRPS

Last Updated Jan 20, 2018 at 10:00 am EDT

(Peel Regional Police/Twitter)

It sure is cold outside, and that has police issuing a reminder when it comes to warming up your car.

Since last month, there have been nearly two dozen vehicle thefts in Waterloo Region – which were a result of people leaving their cars running and unattended while they warm up.

Inspector Michael Haffner with Regional Police says this isn’t just a local issue.

“This is happening all across Ontario and multiple other jurisdictions. There have been a number of vehicles that have been left unattended in the process of warming them up – whether they’re going to work, or just heading out.”

He says the service is now out with a stern reminder for motorists.

“Don’t leave your vehicle unattended when you’re warming it up in the morning. In December, we had 11 vehicles stolen through these type of ‘warm-up theft’, and we’ve had nine vehicles stolen so far this January as well. Most of these vehicles are being taken from residential driveways, or gas stations or variety stores – as people are running in and grabbing an item, while leaving their car running.”

Haffner says looking at the numbers, with 20 being stolen in just over a month – it’s a concerning issue.

“The inconvenience for people is one factor, but this is also a situation where these vehicles can be used in other crimes, hit and runs, and potential break and enters. If they’re taken from a gas station or variety store – your vehicle usually contains a number of personal documents or your garage door opener. So then these thieves now know who you are, where you live, and have access to your garage and residence.”

There’s also another major concern when it comes to leaving your car unattended.

“We’ve seen instances where infants or children are left in the back of these vehicles when they are stolen. We encourage people to have their vehicle in eye-sight, or just be beside it while you’re warming it up, to avoid these situations.”

Haffner adds that he’s sympathizes, as it is very cold outside!

“We understand the mentality, but this is very concerning. Another thing we hear is people putting their key in their ignition, start it up, and then lock your doors with the other key. And that’s great – as long as your window doesn’t get smashed, and someone doesn’t drive away with your vehicle. Crimes in some cases can be crimes of opportunity – and we just need to limit those.”

There is some good news – as eight of the stolen vehicles have now been recovered, and returned to their owners. A 19-year-old Cambridge man was arrested in connection with ‘warm-up’ thefts earlier this week.

The investigation is ongoing though – and anyone with further information is asked to contact WRPS at 519-570-9777 ext. 2299 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.