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Police: Theft Of Unlocked & Running Cars A Serious Problem

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Lock your car, take your keys, every time.

The Pennsylvania Auto Theft Prevention Authority, along with Pittsburgh Police and Allegheny County, are kicking off their statewide auto theft prevention campaign.

They want people to avoid "puffers," a car left unlocked, running, and unattended.

"You might as well roll out a red carpet for thieves, puffers can be stolen in seconds," said Steven Wheeler, Executive Director of Pennsylvania Auto Theft Prevention Authority

A lot of people leave their car running while they run in for a cup of coffee, pick up a pizza, or warm it up in their driveway on a cold winter day.

But in the blink of an eye, the wheel is grabbed by a thief and driver far away.

Often, when the cars are found, they have been stripped for parts and only a shell is left.

In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to leave a car running and unattended on a public street. Even in your driveway, and unlocked and running car is an invitation for criminals.

"Car theft rates have declined significantly in Pennsylvania and nationwide, but we are still at a point where there's about 13,000 cars stolen statewide every year," said Sergeant Rich Bengalwald.

Police say the crime is totally preventable and hope these "thefts of convenience" become less common.

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