Police: Stay with vehicles as they warm up

Officials warning residents not to leave cars alone, after 2 were stolen in Columbus on New Year’s Eve

Columbus police are warning motorists to refrain from warming up their cars unattended after two vehicles were stolen on New Year’s Eve.

Police were sent to Cleveland Street in Columbus about the report of a white 2006 Dodge van being stolen sometime around 3 p.m. Sunday while the owner was warming it up, unlocked and unattended. The vehicle was later recovered in Clifford, said Lt. Matt Harris, Columbus Police Department spokesman.

At 8 p.m. Sunday, officers were sent to Wint Court in Columbus where a 2004 black Toyota Camry was reported stolen under similar circumstances.  When the owner returned after about 15 minutes, the vehicle was gone. The Camry has not been recovered as of Tuesday afternoon, Harris said.

The stolen vehicles are following a familiar trend this time of year with some thieves using the vehicles to drive to other locations, possibly to purchase drugs, then dumping the vehicle at a remote location, Harris said. While no one wants to stay in a freezing cold vehicle while it warms up, police are asking motorists to refrain from leaving unlocked vehicles unattended while warming them up, Harris said.

In early 2017, police were investigating one of these car thefts nearly every day for about a month, Harris said.

“These are thefts that can be prevented,” he said.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.