Police warn drivers that leaving cars to warm up attracts thieve - FOX Carolina 21

Police warn drivers that leaving cars to warm up attracts thieves

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An Upstate driver behind the steering wheel. (File/FOX Carolina) An Upstate driver behind the steering wheel. (File/FOX Carolina)

Cold weather in the Upstate may make drivers think twice about warming up their cars in the morning.

Police in the region have found that when people start their engines and then go back inside for a few minutes before heading out for the day, they become easy targets for car thieves.

Alex Tobar and his wife in Williamston know that first hand. They said they've been heating up the car all winter long and they never thought it would be a problem, since their house sits far back from the main road.

Monday morning, though, when his wife did just that and then she and her son went back outside, their car was gone.

They know they were lucky that their car was recovered just a couple hours later, with help from sheriff's investigators. It was found a few miles away, under some trees off the side of the road.

Tobar guesses the fact that their gas tank was near empty may have helped their cause. He said that they won't be leaving the car running, unattended, any time soon.

"It's not that you're necessarily specifically targeted, but if you leave your vehicle unattended and there's somebody around that's looking for a ride to get them to wherever, it's cheaper than a cab," said Spartanburg Public Safety spokeswoman, Regina Nowak.

Nowak said her department has been warning people to be aware because, even in the best neighborhoods, there may be people walking around and waiting to see someone come out and start their car. She called it, "crimes of opportunity."

Nowak said while officers aren't looking out for it, people should also know that it's illegal to leave a car running when no one is there. She said that car owners can be fined.

Police recommend staying with a car when it's heating up, or else using remote controlled starters which don't require a key to be in the ignition. If there's no key in the car, it's hard to drive away.

Even if a key is left in the car, but it's locked by a clicker, police warn, it's easy for thieves to bust a window, and drive away.

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