Leaving Your Car Running Unattended Could Cost You More Than Your Vehicle

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Leaving your car running unattended might warm your vehicle up during these winter months, but it can also be illegal.

The obvious concern with leaving your car running unattended is that it can be stolen and police say when that happens they have to dedicate several officers to the case which ties up their already limited resources.

Getting into a freezing car is an experience just about all of us try to avoid.

"Generally in the morning, I'll go out and fire it up for 5-10 minutes," said John Parker, a Reno driver.

"This time of year? I just did it when i left work," said Randy Ewert, another driver.

"I usually go out by like 7:45 to warm it up," said Stevi Tathan. "It takes like 15 minutes to warm up."

But Reno Police say if you do that on a public street, you will be cited and fined for more than a hundred dollars. Sergeant Rob VanDiest says police get about two calls a week during the winter from people who have their cars stolen after leaving them running unattended.

"In fact, right now, we are watching a car that was just stolen when someone went inside and we're just waiting to see if anyone comes back to that as we speak," said VanDiest.

One driver we spoke with says he understands the risk, but instead of no longer doing it, he's decided to improvise.

"I've got a keyless lock so I can lock the car," said Ewert. "I come back and key in the combo get in the car and drive away."

Sergeant VanDiest says he understands the need to stay warm, but wants drivers to understand the police department's need to patrol other crimes with a full staff.

"Look at the manpower we have now on this one: where an individual left their car running," said Sgt VanDiest. "Now, I've got 4-5 guys watching this stolen car and it just ties us up."

Sgt VanDiest says the Reno Police Department typically gets about 50 calls a year about unattended vehicles being stolen. He says most of those cases were crimes of opportunity where a passerby simply used the vehicle to drive home or to work.