Officers note increase in thefts of warming cars

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Car thieves are using the cold weather as the perfect opportunity to get behind the wheel your car.

Almost every morning this winter, officers have responded to a number of cars taken after the driver leaves them running to warm up. Just Tuesday morning alone, car thieves took five cars in one east Indianapolis neighborhood.

"I never would have thought somebody would have done that," said Michael Johnson.

Johnson got the surprise of his life around 5:30 a.m. Tuesday after seeing someone drive away in his wife's SUV. It happened when he left the vehicle warming up in their driveway.

"I was close enough to take off and try to catch him. I was close, because when he first came out, the car was fishtailing as he was trying to get away. I got as far as grabbing the handle to my door, but he locked them so I couldn't. So he just sped off," Johnson said.

The Johnsons' SUV is one of five vehicles stolen that morning in their east Indianapolis neighborhood.

Metro police officers believe car thieves are actually cruising neighborhoods looking for unattended cars warming up. It dawned on Johnson that the thieves have cased his street for several days.

"I am sure I have seen that vehicle come by here. Never did stop, but it slowed. Just driving slow," Johnson said.

After calling 911, a responding officer made a serious promise to Johnson.

"The policeman said, 'We will find your car. I am going to look for your car'," Johnson said.

Police found the SUV one street over in the garage at an empty house. Johnson's wife drove it back home.

Police recommended Johnson and other drivers get a steering wheel lock to use while their car warms up.