Snow is falling, temperatures have dropped and many of us are guilty of it: leaving your car idling to heat up before heading out.
Police always warn against it and this week, one Shaker Heights man learned the lesson too late.
"My first thought was, 'Is someone playing a trick on me?' " he said. The victim, who asked that his identity not be revealed, learned quickly that there was no trick.
He turned his car on to warm up before work, went inside for 15 minutes and when he came back out, his 2012 Range Rover was gone.
The man has only lived in Northeast Ohio for a couple of months and said he doesn't make a habit of leaving his car running with the keys inside, so this was a rude awakening.
"When I do it, I expect to come back out to my car. A warm car. Not no car at all!" he said.
It happened to him in Shaker Heights, but it happens all over this time of year.
Two similar cases were reported in Rocky River in just the last two weeks.
"It makes a lot of sense to warm up the car," said Lt. George Lichman. "I'm just going to run into the coffee shop for 30 seconds to get my drink. But it only takes a criminal 30 seconds to seize that opportunity and drive off with your car."
And in Salt Lake City, Utah, police found 600 cars idling, unlocked, within just three hours. It was part of an ongoing investigation after more than 200 cars were stolen in the last month.
There is actually an Ohio state law, in place since 2004, that makes it illegal to leave your car running with the keys in the ignition if you're not there.
Citations, although given rarely, can be up to $150.
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