How to Prevent Winter Vehicle Warm-Up Thefts

Do you remember the days when leaving your car running unattended on the street to warm up was considered a normal practice? Well, times have changed and so has the level of sophistication thieves use to target our vehicles. Over recent years, an increasing number of Americans in all states across the country are experiencing ‘warm-up’ thefts – when their beloved cars get stolen while they’re warming up unattended outside. It’s vital that we understand why this crime is happening and what measures can be taken to protect our cars from these criminals. So, let’s dive into details about this unsettling trend and unearth some useful tips for safeguarding your vehicle from warm-up theft! 

It’s a winter wild west 

Ah, the joy of winter! Time for cozy sweaters, hot peppermint cocoa, and unfortunately those early mornings spent scraping off the frost that blankets our cars overnight. We naturally do what we’ve always done, what our parents have always done, and their parents before that. We start our car and let it idle and heat up a bit, all while we stay back inside a bit longer so we don’t have to experience that sharp cold on the first half of our journey on the road.  

This may have been a great idea for generations, but unfortunately, thieves have cracked the code. They now go cruising neighborhoods looking for cars left unattended while warming up as they make the perfect easy (and warm) targets. They just run up, take the car, and they are gone. Just in time to make those cold winter mornings just a bit harder.  

For example, this year, of the 694 cars stolen in Lincoln, Nebraska, just over 65 percent were left unlocked, and 49.7 percent were from someone leaving their keys in the car. In addition, the NYT reports that “In Los Angeles, car theft reached record levels during the spring lockdown: 5,744 vehicles were stolen from April to June, an increase of nearly 60 percent over the year before.’  

So, no matter where you live, for those who enjoy having our cars precisely the temperature we want before we hop in, make sure you never let your car run without you in it – otherwise, a would-be thief might get away with taking off with your ride. 

Here’s how we can stop this 

The winter season can bring beautiful snowfalls and, of course, an increased risk of car theft. From cars left running while unattended to being careless with our spare keys, it can take only a few moments for would-be thieves to make off with our vehicles. But no need to worry. We can still enjoy this winter season without the fear of losing our treasured rides. So here are a few helpful tips for keeping them safe: 

  • Never leave your car unattended while running, even if you’re going back inside for a minute:

    It might only seem minutes but leaving your car alone while running invites thieves and criminals. So why give them a chance? With newer vehicles, even if you take your key fob for “just for a minute,” that can be all the time they need to hop in, take off, and never look back! So, save yourself the heartache and keep an eye on your wheels no matter what – it’s worth it, in the end, to put on the extra layers for a few while you wait on your car to heat up. 

  • Park in a well-lit area or close to your home:

    Make sure to park in a well-lit area. The extra illumination can act as your car’s guardian angel, whether a streetlight or an overhead lamp. Of course, parking close to your home is convenient, but if you’re headed out for a late-night adventure, safety should always come first. And that includes finding a super bright spot to rest your ride until it’s time for home again. 

  • Invest in a Vehicle Recovery System:

    We all want our cars to remain safe and sound. Installing a stolen vehicle recovery system like Elo GPS when you buy your new or used vehicle will give your car more brain power through connected services and protection from theft. And, if your vehicle is lost or stolen, a recovery system will be able to see your car’s location in real-time and assist with its recovery. With a system like Elo GPS, you first call the police to file a report, then call our 24/7 stolen vehicle hotline, and our team of recovery experts will take it from there. It could be your best investment for your car. 

As the weather gets colder and we must start thinking about warming up our vehicles before heading out for the day, it’s important to remember that car thefts tend to increase during the winter months. But by following some simple tips, like never leaving your car unattended while it’s running and parking in a well-lit area, and having your dealer install Elo GPS, you can help prevent your vehicle from becoming a target of theft. So, make sure to stay safe this winter season!