Officers to pass out flyers warning of vehicle ‘warm up’ thefts

Baltimore County Police DepartmentWith temperatures falling, police in Baltimore County are going to be handing out cards to warn motorists about leaving their cars running while they warm up.

The theft of vehicles after the driver has left them running and unattended is a challenge for law enforcement every winter season. Some motorists do not want to sit in a cold car and wait for it to warm up, so they start the car, go back inside, and leave the car running. Unattended vehicles warming up are easily taken by criminals who go out on cold days specifically looking for them.

Lieutenant Biff Benson, the Commander of the Baltimore County contingent of the Regional Auto Theft Task Force, stated, “The idea of handing out these cards is to inform people about the risk they take in leaving their cars running unattended. We want to try and change behavior this way rather than issuing citations.”

Maryland Law prohibits leaving an unattended vehicle running unless one of the two conditions below exists:

1. The vehicle is started with a keyless entry system and the vehicle is left running unattended for less than five minutes. Any longer than five minutes is prohibited.
2. The vehicle is locked and on private property not open to the public and left running unattended for less than five minutes. Any longer than five minutes is prohibited.

The potential penalty for leaving an unattended vehicle running is $70 and one point.

Officers are expected to start handing the cards out in the next several weeks. The cards will be placed on the windshields of vehicles that are running and unattended.

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