SAVANNAH, GA (November 9, 2012) Metro Police have a warning for drivers who warm up their automobiles before leaving their residences on chilly mornings: Don’t do it!

 Traditional increases in auto thefts are being reported and many of them involve vehicles left running by owners to warm up or as a convenience while they run what was supposed to be a quick errand. More thefts are expected as winter temperatures continue.

 Of 21 vehicles reported stolen last week in the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department jurisdiction, six were left with keys in them – usually in the ignition. In one case they were left on the floor and another in the trunk lock. Four of them were left running with no one around.

 While auto thefts are running 11 percent behind the number reported year to date in 2011, police have been confounded that more than a third have been left with keys available and many of them have been left running.

 “We certainly understand the perceived convenience of being able to get into a car that already is warm on a cold day or left running for  a quick purchase,” said SCMPD Police Chief Willie Lovett. “But that convenience disappears quickly when the car is taken and the owner is confronted with a myriad of paperwork and the expense of replacing the car.

 “It can get cool in Savannah, but it rarely would take more than a couple of minutes of driving before most cars are warmed up enough to produce heat for the occupants.”

 Not all lapses of attention can be blamed on the weather: On Sunday afternoon a driver left his 1987 Cadillac at a gas pump at a Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard convenience store as he made a purchase. Within a minute, a passerby had walked up, slipped into the driver’s seat and driven away.

 Along with the Cadillac went new, 22-inch chrome and purple rims and the three television screens that had been installed inside. The theft was captured on video cameras on the property and police are seeking the suspect.

 Anyone with information on that theft of any others is asked to call Crimestoppers at (912) 234-2020 or text CRIMES (274637). In the body type, include “CStop2020” plus the tip. Tipsters remain anonymous and may qualify for a cash reward.

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