Kalamazoo police warn drivers: do not leave cars running unattended

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Kalamazoo Public Safety is warning to all residents to not leave their cars running unattended. Sgt. Keaton Nielsen said this week at least three vehicles have been stolen that way, including one Thursday morning.

“Well as the weather starts to turn towards winter, temperatures drop and snow starts to fall, generally it turns into a crime of opportunity,” said Sgt. Nielsen during an interview at KDPS headquarters. “People like to go out in the morning, start their cars, [and] warm them up before they drive to work.”

That’s when they’re stolen, he said. Drivers leave the doors unlocked and walk back into their homes. When they return outside, it’s gone.

“As somebody walks by, they see the exhaust and it takes just a few seconds to walk up and pull on a door handle real quick, find the door unlocked and then take the vehicle wherever they need to go,” said Sgt. Nielsen.

It’s happening all over the city, he said. However not all stolen vehicles happen in the morning when a car is warming up.

“We’ve had a few others where people go inside for the night, leave their car unlocked and then leave their keys inside the vehicle,” Sgt. Nielsen said. “It happens periodically.”

Sgt. Nielsen said the best way to prevent any of this from happening is to buy an automatic starter or get a second set of keys. He also recommended making sure all the car windows are up and leaving no valuables inside.

“Primarily just don’t start your car early,” Sgt. Nielsen said. “It stinks a little bit to get into a cold vehicle but that’s the best way to alleviate it.”

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