Warming Up Vehicles

As cold weather approaches, Lawrence Police are reminding drivers that an unoccupied vehicle with its engine running is an open invitation to car thieves who are prowling neighborhoods, convenience stores, and gas stations, looking for the easy steal.

Two Vehicles Warming up in a Parking Lot

Car thieves are like anyone else. They love to find ways to make their job easier. State and local police know that as the weather turns colder, they will take more reports of vehicles stolen while they sat running in front of a house, a convenience store, or a gas station. Owners always report they were just ‘warming up’ their car, or they were only inside the convenience store for a few seconds.

Police have scores of cases involving car thieves cruising neighborhoods early in the morning just looking for the telltale plume of exhaust from an unoccupied vehicle. Other thieves loiter around gas station and convenience store parking lots watching for the driver who leaves his or her vehicle running just to keep it warm while they go inside. This especially concerns police when it involves parents who leave their children in cars with the engine running. Car thieves don’t always check to see who is in the back seat before stealing the vehicle.

Up Close Image of Car Exhaust

Don't Let Your Warm Car Become a Hot Car

When you go out to start your car in the morning to warm it up, then run back inside to grab your coat, or your travel mug, for example. That's when thieves strike. They get away with your car and most likely your key chain, too.

If you need to have a warm car, our recommendation would be to have a proper remote starter on the vehicle so you can remotely start it with the doors still locked.

Lock It or Lose It

During cold spells some motorists may be tempted to leave their car engines running to heat up and de-ice while they wait inside the house in the warmth, leaving their vehicles and valuables vulnerable to theft. There are people who will steal if the opportunity presents itself and others who deliberately go in search of such opportunities - please do not give anyone the chance to steal your property.

Key in Ignition

Safety Tips

  • Never leave your car running or the keys in the ignition when you are away from it, even for “just a minute.”
  • Keep valuables out of sight or in the trunk. Purses, credit cards, and cell phones in plain view only help attract thieves.
  • Always roll up the windows and lock your car, even if it is in your driveway, garage, or in front of your home.
  • Never leave the vehicle title in your car. If stolen, it makes it easier for the thief to dispose of your vehicle. It can also make you a target for identity theft.
  • Be alert when approaching your car, have a plan of action, and have your keys in your hand. Check around, under, and in your vehicle for suspicious individuals. Immediately leave the scene to get help if you have any concerns for your safety.
  • Only park your car in busy, well-lit areas
  • Install a mechanical locking device - commonly called a club, collar, or j-bar - that locks to the steering wheel, column, or brake.
  • If your vehicle has an alarm or other anti-theft device, use it.

Anyone who witnesses any suspicious activity is asked to report it immediately