BEL AIR, Md. - As colder temperatures and the winter season approaches, the Harford County Sheriff's Office Auto Theft Unit is working to raise public awareness about the dangers of leaving a vehicle's engine running and unattended.
Sgt. Dawn Wolf, Supervisor of the Sheriff's Office Property Crimes Unit, said they will conduct random patrols of shopping areas, convenience stores and residential communities looking for vehicles left running and unattended.
"We understand it is convenient for people to leave the engine idling and run into a store for a quick errand or cup of coffee," said Wolf in a statement. "But while making it convenient for yourself, you are also making it very convenient for the thief who wants to steal your car."
Wolf said national auto theft statistics report a car is stolen every 44 seconds in the United States. In Maryland, which ranks among the top 10 states in the country for auto theft, a vehicle is stolen every 15 minutes. "
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 50 percent of the vehicles stolen had their keys left in the vehicle. Police can issue a traffic citation to any driver found in violation and if found guilty could face a fine of $70 and one point on their driving record.
Here are some simple steps to take to reduce the chances of having your vehicle stolen:
Take your key; don't leave it in or on your vehicle.
Close and lock all windows and doors when you park.
Park in well-lit areas - in a garage, if possible.
Never leave valuables in your vehicle, and if you do choose to leave them in your auto, then place them out of sight.