Kansas City Police are asking residents to stop leaving their cars running unattended because it makes them an easy target for thieves.
From Nov. 1 to Dec. 18, 2009, one-fifth of cars stolen in the city had been left running unattended. The problem is the worst in the southern part of the city. Nearly 40 percent of stolen cars in the South Patrol Division were taken when they were left running unattended. In Metro Patrol, that number was about 28 percent. KCPD crime analysts believe those numbers are even higher because some victims are too embarrassed to report that they’d left their car running.
The bulk of the thefts happen when drivers leave their car warming up in their driveway, but many have happened at convenience stores. Victims think they can pop quickly into the store but then come out to find the car they left running stolen.
“We’ve come across some thieves who just wait outside convenience stores for someone to go inside and leave their car on,” said Sergeant Keith Ericsson of the East Patrol Property Crimes Section.
Detectives say that locking a running car is no protection from thieves – they can break the window out in seconds. Even newer cars with remote-start options are not safe at the hands of an experienced car thief.
Not only is leaving your car running unattended unwise, it’s illegal. City Ordinance 70-251 prohibits it and makes it punishable by a fine of $43.50.
The following table outlines how many cars have been stolen in each patrol division from Nov. 1 to Dec. 18, 2009, and how many were left running unattended, according to police reports:
Shoal Creek Patrol
Total cars stolen 11/1-12/18/09
Cars running unattended
Percent of stolen autos running unattended