SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The Salt Lake City Police Department is telling Utahns not to leave their car unattended while it sits running and warming up in the morning.
On Tuesday, Salt Lake City Police said they had responded to 77 stolen vehicle reports where keys had been left inside the car since the start of 2023. 32 of those stolen vehicles happened while the car was left unattended and warming up in the driveway in the morning.
“We get it. No one wants to walk out of a warm home and get inside a cold car but it isn’t worth the risk,” said SLCPD Sgt. Mark Wian. “Always keep your cars locked and take the keys with you. Never leave the car unattended while it is running.”
Wian said it can only take a few seconds for someone to hop into a running car and take off with it.
According to the Utah Department of Air Quality, idling your car in the morning hurt Utah’s air quality while wasting fuel.
“Research indicates that the average person idles their car five to ten minutes a day,” the department’s website reads. “Ten seconds of idling can use more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it. A car idling for two minutes uses about the same amount of fuel it takes to drive one mile.”
The Department of Air Quality also says cars don’t need to be warmed up on cold winter days as many car parts only warm up while the car is moving.
Car idling isn’t a winter-only problem for Utahns either. Other common reasons for leaving a car running and unattended are to stop to talk to a friend or to run inside to grab something you forgot.
SLCPD warns the public to never leave a running car unattended and to always take their keys with them if they leave the car. Meanwhile, the Department of Air Quality says if the car is left running for more than 10 seconds anyway, it’s better for fuel economy and air quality to turn off the car and restart the engine when you come back.