Cold-hearted criminals are ready to steal your idling ride, police warn

Edmonton police have a warning for drivers. Leaving your unlocked car to warm up unattended will invite cold-hearted criminals to steal your ride.

'You're serving up your vehicle on a platter for criminals'

Between Jan. 1 and Sept 29, police received 214 reports of stolen vehicles that were left idling and unlocked. (Yvon Theriault/CBC)

Edmonton police have a warning for drivers: Leaving your unlocked car to warm up unattended will invite cold-hearted criminals to steal your ride.

As temperatures plunge in the capital city, police are anticipating a spike in the number of idling vehicles being stolen.

Vehicles that have been left unlocked and idling outside a home or business can disappear in a matter of seconds, police warned. 

"Living in a winter city, we certainly understand," Const. David Castillo said in a news release Wednesday. "The last thing anyone wants to do is enter a walk-in freezer when you sit in a frosty vehicle in the morning.

"Unfortunately, criminals with even colder hearts are waiting in the weeds nearby for unsuspecting citizens to leave their vehicles idling." 

Between Jan. 1  and Sept. 29, 214 idling vehicles were stolen in Edmonton. And the number of reports continues to increase every year. In 2017, 347 were stolen. In 2018, 395 idling vehicles were reported stolen.

The thefts are more common in winter, police said, but they are becoming a year-round issue.

"It's a common occurrence that is unfortunately trending in the wrong direction," he said. "Frankly, we need the cooperation of our citizens to avoid taking shortcuts."

Castillo said the vehicles are often used to commit other crimes. He hopes Edmontonians will be more careful with their vehicles.

He recommends drivers invest in a steering wheel locking device or remote starter, keep their spare keys out of reach and park in well lit, high traffic areas. 

The best way to stop thieves from driving off with your idling car is to not leave it running at all, he said.

That means shutting it off, even when it's miserably cold. 

"You're serving up your vehicle on a platter for criminals," Castillo said. 


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