Police Warn Residents About Unattended Vehicles

By: Jared Cerullo Email
By: Jared Cerullo Email

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In this bone-chilling cold, it's awfully tempting to let your car warm up while you go back inside your toasty house. But it's not advisable and, in fact, it's against the law. Wichita Police have recorded 43 car thefts just since the beginning of the year. Many of those have been attributed to unattended vehicles left running to warm up.

We see it every year. The exhaust coming from the tailpipe is a dead giveaway, but even in a packed apartment complex, people still leave their cars unattended while they warm up.

"It's easy to tell which cars are running and which cars aren't," explained Officer Robyn Douty.

Wichita Police took us for a ride-along Thursday. Our first stop was to Quik Trip. The very first car we pulled up to was running and unattended. All we had to do was wait a few minutes for the owner to come out.

""When you step in, do you think about someone being able to just walk in and drive away with your car?" I asked.

"Yeah, I do now," said the driver who didn't want to be identified.

In fact, right within our sight, the driver of a white pickup pulled up and got out... leaving his truck running while he went inside.

""Why were you just filming my truck?" asked the man as he walked out of the gas station.

"Well you left it running when you went into the QT," Douty responded.

"But it's locked up, though," said the man.

"We're just letting people know that it is against state statute," Douty said as she handed the man a flier.

And yes, even if you have a remote locking device, it is still illegal - and unsafe - to leave your running car unattended. It's good that this man locked his car, but Officer Douty says criminals won't think twice about breaking the window and driving away.

"If I was parked over there, I would shut it off, but since I was right in front of the door..." said another man as he tried to explain away his mistake.

One gentleman wasn't too happy to see us as he walked back to his car.

"Why'd you leave it running today and walk into the store?" I asked him.

"Because it's cold. Why did that police officer leave his running every time he gets out of it?"

For the record, Officer Douty did not leave - her - car running. Police vehicles also have several anti-theft devices even when they're running.

"I try to turn my car off when I go inside to set a good example because they do throw that back at us," Douty said.

Back at the apartment complex, we waited for the owner of one car to come out, but after close to 20 minutes, the driver was nowhere in sight.

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