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Warming up your car? Watch out for thieves

Lawton_Frigid temperatures such as we've had this week can be downright brutal, and some folks try to warm up their cars before they hit the road.  However, if you keep yours running with the key in the ignition, and you're not in it, it could be an invitation for someone to take off with it.  Plenty of drivers are guilty of leaving a running vehicle unattended while it warms up, but while temperatures outside decrease, car thefts increase.

7News found one driver after another who left the car running in order to keep them warm - however, the drivers were nowhere in sight.  Police say it happens all of the time.  "People come out in the morning, and they will start their cars and go back in not paying attention to their car," said Lawton Police Captain William Hines.  "A lot of times thieves just need one little advantage, and that is what they take."

Police say that car thefts increase during the winter months, and it isn't only a problem at the driver's residence.  Some people leave their cars running when they go inside stores.  "They leave their car running, their door unlocked, and think, ‘I will just be in there a split second,'" said Hines.  "That's all a thief needs is just that split second to jump in your car and drive away."

But, how do you warm up your car when it's cold outside, and not have it stolen.  "They can move their car to an area that they can see - they can stay as close to their car as possible," said Hines.  "Just be aware of your environment and your surroundings."  What it may boil down to is whether you would rather have a cold car or no car at all.  "There are times we find them within a matter of minutes, there are times it is a month or two before we find them, and some people never get their car back at all."  Another idea - have a second set of keys and lock the vehicle.

Car thefts while a car is running can happen in a flash.  Some convenience store owners say they have seen thefts happen right in front of them.  So, make sure that while you are warming up your vehicle, think of safety first.

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