MIDDLETOWN, Ohio -- Like many drivers faced with beginning their day in cold weather, Hanna Ellison started her car Wednesday morning and left it running for a few minutes to let it warm up. While she waited for her car’s heating to kick in, she stepped back inside her house to help her son put on his coat and get ready for school.
That was when a thief struck.
"It happened within minutes," she said.
In the short amount of time she had taken to check on her son, Ellison said, someone had jumped into her still-running car and driven away with more than just the family’s means of transportation. The person who stole Ellison’s car also made off with the Christmas presents in the back seat.
"(My son) wanted to show everybody everything he got for Christmas," Ellison said through tears.
Although Ellison’s practice of stepping away from her car while it warmed up is relatively common, police say drivers should never leave their car idling and unattended.
With keys in the ignition, the doors unlocked and the engine already rolling, it can take thieves mere seconds to hop inside and make off with a stolen vehicle -- creating a much bigger problem for the owner than icy windows or chilly hands ever would have done.