Police see increase in car thefts as temperatures drop

KENNEWICK, Wash. – What do you do when you wake up to a car covered in frost and ice?

Warm it up. But, some people let their cars idle and warm up alone, while they get ready inside.

“People go out, unlock their car, go back inside, let it warm because they don’t wanna freeze inside their car and then they go back out and their car is gone,” AJ Schneider with 360 Automotive Group said.

“Or even if they do lock them, it’s not that difficult to gain access to a vehicle especially, now you also left your keys in the vehicle to leave it running, which then allows
for other opportunity type crimes where people are getting in stealing your keys and potentially burglarizing your house later on,” Captain Chris Lee with Richland PD said.

Even if you have a remote start for your car, police still urge drivers to beware.

READ: WSDOT’s Tips for Winter Driving

“That doesn’t mean it’s foolproof or can be defeated and your vehicle still be taken,” Lee said.

Captain Lee said when the weather gets colder, they see an increase in car thefts and other related crimes of opportunity.

“Gaining access and getting information out of your vehicle that maybe you put in there that you wouldn’t normally, like leaving your purse in there or a backpack,” he explained.

Schneider said in addition to keeping an eye on your car while it warms up, to check your battery, fluids, lights and tires.

“So, really make sure that your tires are properly inflated and that you have good tread and they’re tires rated for scenarios here in the Tri-Cities,”

Both men encouraged drivers to go slow and give yourself plenty of time to defrost your car and drive to your destination.

“Usually just making sure you have enough time to warm it up your not just jumping in your vehicle and going right away,” AJ said.

“Take time, scrape things, allow it to defrost and be present with your vehicle when that’s happening so these crimes don’t occur,” Lee added.

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