Be ‘Weather Aware’ Friday & Saturday

Police chief warns of opportunistic car thieves who emerge in cold weather

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Cold mornings are forecast for most of the week, which means extra time spent warming up your car. Just make sure you are in it when it's running.

"Criminals are opportunists and when they see an opportunity to steal a car, they're going to take advantage of it," said Overland Park Police Chief Frank Donchez.

Overland Park police have seen a rise in stolen cars this year compared last. In 2013 there were less than 20 "running" cars stolen. This year it's nearly doubled and there are six weeks of the year left.

"I know the temptation is there, it's cold out, you want to keep the car running, but I really advise against it," explained Chief Donchez.

When the cold weather settles in, or even if it hits for just a few days, Overland Park police brace for stolen vehicle calls. More often than not, the cars are taken from driveways or right in front of the owner's house.

Most of the time thefts happen on a weekday and between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. Prime days, hours and locations for people warming up the car before going to work or school.

The best options, bundle up or pony up.

"You can always sit there and run it for a while and then it's warmed up, then shut it off or buy the remote start. I know that's not an option for a lot of people, obviously there's a cost factor involved, but all of those options are better than option of having your vehicle stolen." said Chief Donchez

Many cities have ordinances against leaving a car running while it's unoccupied. In Overland Park the fine is $90.