January got off to a bitter cold start, which may have been a boon to car thieves.
Already this year, 37 cars were stolen while warming up unattended in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
By this date last year, only six such crimes had occurred.
“This is a crime of opportunity,” Deputy Police Chief Chris Murtha said.
“If you had a lotto ticket that was worth $20,000, would you go put it outside in the driveway for 10 minutes and hope nobody takes it? You wouldn’t,” police spokeswoman Jennifer Donelan. “Why are we doing that with our cars?”
Police asked drivers not to risk it.
“We don't want you to think that you’re completely safe just because you have a key fob and you’ve got the key fob so nobody can take the car,” Donelan said. “They can take the car.”
Leaving a car warming up unattended in Maryland can result in a $70 ticket and a point on the license, but police rather drivers heed their warning.
“Warm your car up but stay in your car and you’ll keep your car,” Murtha said.