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Why Starting and Leaving Your Car Unattended in Winter is a Bad Idea

Fairfax County police say car thieves take notice when vehicles are left running with no owner in sight.

Warm your car up and leave it unattended in the winter? Think again, says police. Patch file photo.
Warm your car up and leave it unattended in the winter? Think again, says police. Patch file photo.
The winter and holiday seasons can be a very cold and busy time of year. So cold and busy that it's easy for residents to forget to protect themselves and property from vehicle thieves.

Fairfax County police are urging residents to take precautions when warming up vehicles and leaving them unattended. A total of 47 vehicles were stolen in Fairfax County between Dec. 1 and Jan. 6 last year, according to statistics provided by police. Altogether there were 808 vehicles stolen in 2012 compared to 877 in 2011. 

Just last Wednesday, a woman in the 6200 block of Bren Mar Drive in Alexandria started her car around 8 a.m. and went back inside her home while it warmed up. Car thieves saw the car, jumped in and took off in it. Two juveniles and other suspects were later apprehended, the report states, but not every car theft victim is lucky.

Police detectives with the police department's Auto Theft Unit offer residents the following tips to keep in mind to avoid becoming victims of auto theft:

  • Never leave your keys in your vehicle.
  • Never leave your car running unattended.
  • Never leave valuables visible in your vehicle.
  • Consider installing anti-theft technologies and devices.
  • Park in well-lit areas when possible.
  • If your car is stolen, report it to police immediately.       

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