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Police Warn Of Spate Of Stolen Cars After Engines Left Running

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Police in west suburban Aurora were warning car owners not to leave running cars unattended to warm them up before driving.

"This happens every year, as soon as the weather turns cold… because of the number of people that leave their vehicles running unattended. That's a huge target for car thieves," Aurora Police spokesman Dan Ferrelli said.

Aurora police said more than half of the 17 cars stolen there last month were the result of the driver leaving the door unlocked, the keys in the ignition, and the engine running.

Ferrelli said running cars are an easy target for thieves who steal them to use in burglaries, robberies, or even drive-by shootings.

He said it's bad enough to lose your car if you leave it running and unattended, but it could get worse, as police could issue a ticket for negligent operation; and car insurance likely won't cover the loss of a car due to negligence, which includes leaving a car running.

Police suggested drivers turn off their ignition and lock the doors whenever they leave a car unattended, even if it's just for a few seconds, as that's all it takes for a thief to swipe your car when you do that.

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