Sheriff warns against warm-up thefts

Unattended vehicles left with motors running are quick targets to car thieves. Drivers are warned to not leave their vehicles unattended while they warm up.

POULSBO — The winter season has recently arrived and temperatures are plummeting. As the thermometer number begins to drop, the number of motor vehicle thefts begin to rise.

Not many have heard of warm-up thefts, but those who like to steal vehicles know the technique well, the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office reports.

During colder months, many Kitsap County residents start their vehicles and leave them idling for several minutes before they start their morning commute. It’s often early enough that neighborhoods are still dark, and those cars warming up are typically left unlocked while drivers steps back inside for even just a few seconds to finish their coffee.

Thieves count on two things:

— Most people don’t like getting into a cold vehicle.

— Drivers are creatures of habit and routine — they’ve done this many times without problem.

Unattended vehicles left with motors running are quick targets. According to the sheriff’s department, it’s very easy for criminals to take advantage of this seemingly innocuous routine to steal a car. The only effort expended is to cruise through those neighborhoods looking for vehicles with engines running and no one behind the wheel.

Within a matter of seconds thieves are driving away with no forced entry, hot wiring or carjacking required.

These types of thefts typically take place in residential areas curbside or even in the owner’s driveway, the sheriff’s office reported. Culprits also are known to watch convenience stores waiting for a driver to leave their car running.

“The answer to this scenario is apparent …” according to the sheriff’s office. “Don’t provide criminals with an easy opportunity to steal your vehicle.”

The sheriff’s office’s advice: Bundle up and remain with the vehicle while it warms up initially and the windows are defrosted.

If you must leave your car, utilize a valet key or remote starter if the car is equipped.