Letting your car warm up in the morning is convenient, but it may be just what opportunistic thieves are looking for. 

With temperatures continuing to drop, RCMP are encouraging people to be aware. 

“In 2021, 8.3% of vehicles stolen in Alberta RCMP jurisdiction were left idling,” Corporal Mark Fulton said in a press release. 

This issue becomes more prevalent in colder months. 

“In Strathmore, vehicle theft while left idling does happen, we frequently see it more during colder weather events,” explained Sargent Mark Wielgosz.

This week, members of RCMP and local law enforcement will be participating in Operation Cold Start. 

Officers will be out on patrol looking for vehicles that are left idling, unattended, and unlocked. They will attempt to contact the owner of the vehicle to engage in a conversation about vehicle safety and educate people on what to do instead to prevent their car from being a target of theft. 

‘Whether you're letting your car warm up or leaving it running at the gas station, anytime keys are left in the vehicle and the doors are unlocked, it creates an opportunity for auto thieves,” said Wielgosz. 

Most modern engines do not require a ‘warmup’ period, but if you need to do so, the RCMP offers some advice. 

“Always lock your doors even if you are parked in a driveway or garage and never leave valuable items such as wallets, keys, purses, or change visible in an unoccupied vehicle,” Alberta RCMP said. 

It is suggested to use visible anti-theft devices such as steering wheel locks to mitigate vehicle theft. 

RCMP recommends using command start, if possible, but if your vehicle isn't equipped with it, try to leave the vehicle in a visible and well-lit area and ensure it is locked. 

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