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Ride-along: SLCPD warns residents to not warm cars up unattended

Posted at 7:09 PM, Feb 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-01 22:02:21-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Many of us are probably guilty of thinking, “It will never happen to me.”

But when it comes to warming up your car in the morning, your comfort may cost you.

In Salt Lake City, cars stolen while warming up are more common than you might think.

“Community members want to go from a warm house to a warm car," said Sgt. Mark Wian with the Salt Lake City Police Department. "But as you can see, that can have a devastating impact."

READ: Midvale residents report multiple car thefts just blocks away from each other

FOX 13 News got an exclusive look riding shotgun with police officers as they patrolled the Glendale community Tuesday morning.

One might expect just a few, but between 7-8 a.m., police saw dozens of cars warming up with no one inside.

“I’d be real angry,” one neighbor said after being told by police about the issue. “I’ve already had quite the go with cars this year, so we just got this one. So if I would have come out to it being stolen this morning, it would have not been a very good reaction.”

There were as many as three cars at a time being watched by police, with most of the drivers just running inside to get a cup of coffee, or waiting for their heater to warm up.

But cars warming up weren’t the only thing they ran across. They may have seen someone looking to take advantage of these idling cars.

“I am pretty sure he checked and he was walking down the street for more,” Detective Michael Ruff said of a man looking into cars, potentially trying to steal one.

Since the beginning of 2022, there have been 35 warm-up thefts. Last winter, there were around 200.

READ: Free Fare February now underway on all UTA services

While everyone should avoid leaving their cars unattended, there was one instance officers witnessed that was especially concerning: A person leaving their child in their car before heading back inside.

“I just don’t think people realize. I think people get tunnel vision,” Detective Michelle Mechling said about the situation.

“That would be the worst-case scenario is leaving a child somewhat unattended in a vehicle that can’t care for themselves,” Sgt. Wian added.

And for those wondering: Yes, there was a warm-up theft Tuesday morning in Salt Lake City.

It happened at a gas station when the driver went inside to get supplies, only to come out and find their car gone.