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Police: when temps down, car theft rises

CB police say stolen cars on the rise, OPD warns
Posted at 12:38 PM, Dec 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-08 13:42:44-05

Warming up your car makes sense, since we’re experiencing some of the coldest days so far this season, but police say there are ways to protect your car without becoming a victim of theft.

Sgt. Anthony Gutierrez, who works in the Omaha police traffic unit, says your car idling away makes way for opportunists.

In some cases, if your unattended car is stolen the headache only gets worse.

“Not only could your car get stolen, but you could be handed a citation for the amount of $74,” he says.

That's because under Nebraska state law it's illegal to leave a car running alone on roadways and highways.

But across the river in Iowa, offices for Pottawattamie county attorney and Council Bluffs city attorney say that's not the case.

Understanding the habit, Council Bluffs police urged people to install a remote start if they want to want to leave it unattended to warm up, according to a recent press release.

 If one’s not install, it’s best to stay with the car, according to Sgt. Mark Stuart of Council Bluffs police.

But wherever you are, Sgt. Gutierrez says there's something called a "criminal network."

People look for that type of vehicle – if they want to steal a motor vehicle, Gutierrez says.

“Someone sees your car unattended – they might not steal it, but they might still your purse you left inside. Or shopping [items]. Or anything that is of value,” he says.

Or they might take your registration  and leave everything else behind.

But then, the thieves will know where you live, he says.

“They know when you leave. [When] your house is probably unattended,” Gutierrez says.

With winter season fast approaching, police say this crime trend will grow but it doesn't have to.

“The best advice I can give you is dress warm, sit in the car, start it up, let it warm up before you take off," he says.