The danger of leaving your idle car warming: Indiana woman's car stolen in 15 minutes

Posted at 11:40 PM, Nov 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-27 11:15:25-05

DECATUR TOWNSHIP, Ind. — More than 30 states have laws or local ordinances that prevent drivers from warming up their car without being inside of it, but it’s legal in Indiana – and every year, Hoosier drivers pay the price.

“My husband started my car up for me to take my son to school and I came back out and my car was gone,” said Stacy Smith.

Smith said her van had only been sitting in the driveway of her Indiana home and running for about 15 minutes. But that’s all it took for a thief to jump inside and drive away.

Car thefts are all too common in Indianapolis. Over the past week, police have taken reports for at least 139 different incidents. Of those, at least 10 were listed as either warming up or running at the time they were stolen.

Smith, who works for the Department of Corrections, says she’s been starting her car and letting it idle in the driveway for years, but it only took one time for her to learn an expensive lesson.

The thieves didn’t just get away with her van.

“They took my duty belt – it has my handcuffs, my OC (pepper spray), had all my kid's car seats,” said Smith.

Police are asking drivers to think twice about starting their vehicles to warm them, and if you want it warmed before you leave to make sure you’re inside of it when it’s on.

The other option police suggest is using a remote start with a kill switch, in case something happens. Most vehicles equipped with those systems will turn off if they’re moved out of range from the remote.