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Wichita police see surge in cars stolen while left unattended to warm up

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, at 11:42 a.m.

The cold snap that put Wichita in the deep freeze last week has prompted a spike in the number of vehicles being stolen while they’re warming up unattended, police said Wednesday.

Since the beginning of the month, 16 vehicles left running have been stolen, Lt. Doug Nolte said. In most of those cases, the owners have started them to warm them up and then gone back inside.

Sometimes, drivers have pulled into convenience stores and left their vehicles running while they dashed inside. When they return, their car is gone.

“We discourage people from leaving their car running,” Nolte said. “That is just a recipe for you to come out and find your car missing.”

Two cases were reported on Tuesday alone — including one of a vehicle whose front bumper was barely hanging on due to a previous accident. The weekend saw numerous incidents as well, Capt. Gavin Seiler said.

“It’s a hard crime to actually solve,” Nolte said, because in most cases the vehicles are left abandoned elsewhere in the city.

Police recommend the use of remote starters, which allow drivers to warm up their vehicles with the doors locked.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @StanFinger.

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