Cars started and warming up are being stolen

Posted at 11:30 PM, Jan 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-19 05:55:11-05

The icy temps definitely make it temping to run your car and let it heat up before hitting the road.

"The colder it gets I’ll try to wake up an extra 10 to 15 minutes early just so I can start the cars and keep them nice and warm," said Erik Estep.

According to law enforcement, that's the reason cold weather is prime season for car thefts.  Baltimore County Police say at least five cars and SUVs have been swiped from a two-mile area in Woodlawn over the last month.

"In each one of these instances the vehicle owner started the car and left it running outside unattended," Officer Jennifer Peach said.

See also: Idling to warm up your car? Don't, and here's why

The vehicles were also unlocked.  Police say they are crimes of opportunity that can easily be avoided.

"If someone is walking by and sees a car that's running, and they're not an honest person, of course it's an opportunity they're gonna take,” Estep said.  “So I try not to give them that opportunity."

The first theft happened back on December 15th on Pacton Place.  Over the next four weeks there were at least four more stolen vehicles, with the most recent happening on January 9th on Amber Way.  The crooks are striking between 8 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.

"They sent around a notice from my rental office letting us know that there were some thefts in the area and just to be mindful if you're warming up your car, don't leave it running, make sure you're sitting in it, things like that," Janel Coleman said.

Officers tell us almost all of the autos have been found.  They just want people to be smart as bitter cold moves into the area.

"Never start the vehicle and leave it unlocked and unattended because you're just asking for it to be stolen," said Peach.

Authorities recommend using a remote starter to warm up your car, or have two sets of keys so the vehicle can be locked.

If you see anything suspicious call Baltimore County Police.