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Police: More unattended, warming vehicles stolen in January than all of 2013

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, at 3:57 p.m.

A bad habit is reaching epidemic proportions in Wichita, police say, and there are two reasons for it: cold weather and laziness.

In January alone, Police Chief Norman Williams said, there were 150 cases of vehicles being stolen while they were left unattended and warming. There were 113 of those incidents in all of 2013.

“We surpassed the entire year in just one month,” Williams said.

As Januarys go, 2014 was colder than normal in Wichita. Records show the average temperature of 31.8 was nearly half a degree below average and there were eight mornings where the low temperature was in the single digits.

The chief said he understands the importance of convenience to motorists and “wanting to get into a warm vehicle,” but there are thieves patrolling streets watching for warming vehicles left unattended. People leave their cars running while they duck into a convenience store, thinking it’ll only be a couple of minutes. When they come out, their vehicle is gone.

“Let’s bundle up good” and stay in vehicles while they’re warming, Williams said.

Motorists should be aware of their surroundings and notice if, for example, someone is standing around outside a convenience store, he said. They might be looking for an opportunity to steal an unattended vehicle.

“We need the public’s help to be proactive” in reducing the number of auto thefts, Williams said.

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

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