ROCKFORD (WIFR) – We may want to think twice about leaving our cars running and unattended this winter. Local police say there’s an uptick in car thefts, since it’s so cold many of us keep the engine on even to make a quick stop at a gas station to keep our cars warm.
It’s a winter routine for most of us to start up our car to get it warm and leave it unattended to run inside our homes or a gas station, one of the most common places for our cars to be stolen.
More than 100 cars were stolen in Winnebago and Boone County in 2013, according to the Northern Illinois Auto Theft Task Force.
66 running cars were stolen in Rockford alone. Police say they see a spike in thefts every year between December and February because criminals know most people leave their cars on and alone to keep them warm.
Officers say there’s no specific area where we’re likely to get our car stolen because it happens throughout the city, everywhere from gas stations to our very own driveways.
“What you need to do is not leave your vehicle unattended and running. You can actually be ticketed for leaving a vehicle running and unattended. Bringing that sort of behavior to the attention of people will remind them hopefully how dangerous that is,” said Mark Galindo with the Illinois State Police.
Garlindo also says we can face a $120 fine if we leave our cars with the engine running in a public place, including along the street.
We won’t be ticketed if our cars are running in a store parking lot or gas station, however officers encourage us to never leave our cars unattended and running.