Your teeth are chattering. Your vehicle's windows are icy, but you have to get to work.
Whether you're warming up the car to avoid the cold or leaving it running as you unload groceries, an unattended vehicle is a crime of opportunity.
"We always warn consumers about the dangers of leaving a vehicle unlocked and not taking the fob or key with them, but leaving the car running with a key or fob in the vehicle is a prime target for an opportunistic thief," says Jim Schweitzer, chief operating officer, National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
The non-profit organization is warning drivers about the dangers of leaving cars to warm up before a daily commute or other activity, otherwise known as "puffing."
These simple measures could save a driver the stress and consequences of leaving a car unattended:
- Lock the vehicle, set the alarm and take all keys or fobs.
- Do not leave the garage door opener in the vehicle.
- Take a picture of your registration on your cell phone, and do not leave the registration or other papers with personal information in the vehicle.
- Never leave a car unlocked and running to warm it up or while stopping for a quick cup of coffee. It only takes a moment for the opportunistic thief to jump inside and drive off.
A vehicle isn't the only valuable that could be lost in the process.
In Chalmette, La., a pregnant mother was recorded running after her car which contained her two children inside. The woman had been unloading groceries and had left the keys in the vehicle.
Surveillance video captured 18-year-old Dedric Hurst taking the car and backing down the driveway, striking the mother as she drove away.
The car was abandoned a few blocks away, and the mother was treated and released from a local hospital, according to news reports.