It is an old story and it is happening again right now. It is 15 degrees above zero. In law enforcement when the temperature drops, you can predict what the 6:00 a.m. shift will look like. 911 dispatch will start the officer’s day with car thefts called “warm-ups”. There is always a spike in car thefts when it is cold outside. People start their cars; and while their car is warming, they go back inside their home. When they return to their car to go to work, it is gone. “Warm-up” thefts are as predictable as coats, hats and gloves on a frosty day.
This morning, as I sit inside Starbucks, I watch the beginning of this old tale unfolding once again.
A customer left his car running as he entered Starbucks. He did not lock his car. The car is not iced over, so that is not an excuse. A weak battery could be an excuse, but I doubt it based on my observations of the car and driver during the next 30 minutes.
After the driver enters Starbucks I watch both him and his car.
While he ordered his coffee, I moved outside to photograph his car, including the billowing exhaust rising up towards our damaged ozone layer.
The driver gets his beverage and sits down at a windowless table instead of rushing out to his car. He spends a half hour playing with his smartphone. I think to myself, smart phone; dumb guy.
His unsecured car, with the motor running represents an opportunity for car thieves. I am tempted to walk over and thank this bloke for helping the rest of us. If you and I turn off our cars, take our keys, lock our cars and set the alarm, we will have made our cars unattractive to car thieves. This man’s behavior distracts the car thief from targeting our cars.
Moving beyond my thankfulness for his effort to make our cars safer, I am critical of his kind of thoughtless and dangerous behavior. Here is a list of my reasons why.
- The driver is wasting oil and gas when our country is still experiencing oil dependency problems.
- When his car is stolen, 911 dispatch, law enforcement and his insurance company will be forced to waste time and valuable resources.
- The driver’s thoughtless behavior contributes to the elevation of our car insurance rates. I do not enjoy paying for someone else’s stupidity.
- When the cops locate stolen cars and try to recover them for the owner, that chain of events can result in a vehicle pursuit, which can lead to injury or death of police officers and citizens. The first link in this unfortunate chain of events is the careless driver leaving his unattended car running.
A car owner behaving like this does not deserve the label victim. A label of vacuous, inconsiderate or criminal would be more fitting.
Insurance companies should not pay claims when the car owner facilitates the crime by leaving the keys in the car.
Update. The driver just returned to his car before the car thieves could make off with his wheels. Do not despair car thieves, I am confident, this driver will continue repeating his behavior until one day you will be able to snag his car. That is when we will hear that common victim phrase, “No one ever stole my car before when I left it running.”