Car warming thefts on the rise as winter weather rolls in - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Car warming thefts on the rise as winter weather rolls in

Posted: Updated:
DALTON, GA (WRCB) -

Law enforcement officers across the Tennessee Valley have are warning drivers as colder temperatures move in. 

Police say warming your car in the morning creates a tempting target for thieves.

A winter habit we've all been guilty of at some point. 

"I warm up my car every once in a while, but my car is sitting right in front of the window where I can see it the whole time, so if somebody came up they could still get away but I mean they would have to outrun me I guess," said Coach Otinger, a Dalton, GA resident. 

Collegedale resident, Jim Herman, doesn't warm his car, but said it's okay to do if the car doors are locked. 

But whether the doors are locked or you're keeping a watchful eye, Bruce Frazier, a spokesman for the Dalton Police Department, suggests you avoid doing it at all this winter. 

"It's not worth losing your car. Unfortunately, last week we had two cars stolen that way," Frazier said. "It's the same thing as leaving your front door unlocked most of the time in this town you will probably be okay, but there's always that chance that somebody is going to come along and take advantage."

Between 5:15 a.m. and 5:35 a.m. on Thursday, a 2005 Mazda MPV minivan was stolen from the Budgetel Hotel's parking lot on South Thornton St. About an hour later, a gray 2007 Nissan Maxima was stolen from the Underwood Lodge apartments on Underwood St. 

Frazier said both victims reported that they had started their cars and left them running outside while they finished getting ready inside. In both cases, when the victims came back outside to get into their warm cars, they found a cold parking space instead. Neither car was locked.

Police later arrested Angel Leann Joyce, for the theft at Underwood Lodge apartments, with the help of surveillance video taken from the property. 

Frazier said it's a crime of opportunity and consequences. 

"It's not a prank. It's not a joke. You're looking at basically grand theft auto, which is you know it's a felony and I mean you're talking about big boy and big girl time in jail," Frazier said. 

An unfortunate situation many could never imagine themselves falling victim to. 

"You don't think it could happen to you but it can and believe me you don't want it to happen to you," said Frazier. 

In some states it's illegal to warm up your unattended car. 

For example, in Ohio it's illegal to let your car idle for any period of time. Even in if the car is parked in a driveway, Ohioans must turn off their car and set their parking brakes to comply with state law.

In other states, you could be fined if you're caught idling your car for more than the mandated time limit. 

Powered by Frankly