Thieves steal unattended, running vehicles

Police say thieves are stealing cars while they sit running and unattended.

Police say it comes with the season - car thefts thanks to the cold and carelessness.

Police arrested two people Thursday for stealing cars. They were separate incidents, but started the same way. Two vehicle owners left their cars running in the driveway to warm up, but then walked away.

One man made it to Clifton when he was stopped by police.

The other, a juvenile, lost control and crashed into a garage on Warman, just after police halted a pursuit because of slick roads.

Eyewitness News spotted several people who left their cars running during quick stops Thursday night while they stepped inside, including a government van. When the driver returned, we asked if he was worried someone could have taken his van while he was inside for more than five minutes.

"I can see it from the door," he said.

But the government worker was nowhere near the door.

Another man, who left his pickup running outside a convenience store while he ran inside for a couple minutes, said, "Well, I lock my truck."

But it could still be a target for anyone willing to take a couple seconds to smash a window.

The FBI says a car is stolen every 43 seconds. An insurance industry survey shows a third of theft victims had left the cars running and unattended when they were taken.

We found a car sitting in the cold all day quickly warmed up to 62 degrees in just five minutes. So why not stay with the car, instead of leaving it alone and unlocked?

And does the engine need to warm up?

"On a car built after 1996, there is not a need to warm the car up. Certainly, in the days of the carburetor, that was necessary," said Russ with Beck's Automotive Service.

We asked another driver who left his car running outside a convenience store if he was worried about it being stolen.

"No," he said, "because it's old."

But age doesn't matter. Cars are stolen for joyrides or parts, including catalytic converters, which have valuable metals.