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Lancaster Police caution against leaving vehicles unattended while they’re ‘warming up’

LANCASTER — Since the beginning of the month, four vehicles in Lancaster have been reported stolen — and three of those vehicles were taken after being left unattended while idling, to “warm up,” according to Lancaster Police.

Police say the Pennsylvania Auto Theft Prevention Authortity refers to vehicles left idling as “puffers,” referring to the puffs of vehicle exhaust seen in cold weather.

According to police:

  • On Jan. 13 at 3:50 p.m., an unattended vehicle was stolen on the first block of South Franklin Street. The vehicle owner had left the keys in the ignition with the engine running. The vehicle was later found on East Mifflin Street.
  • On Jan. 18 at 5:46 a.m., an unattended, running vehicle was stolen on the 1300 block of Union Street. That car was recovered on Lafayette Street.
  • Monday at 3:41 a.m., an unattended vehicle was taken from the 700 block of High Street. As of Monday afternoon, the vehicle, a 1995 Saturn SC Coupe that had been left idling with the keys in the ignition, had not been found by police.

These types of auto thefts are completely preventable, police say. Thieves may steal an unattended vehicle as a crime of opportunity.

In the past, investigators have found that some are specifically targeting unattended vehicles in front of homes, convenience stores and gas stations, police say.

Police remind vehicle owners that leaving vehicles unattended and running with the keys in the ignition is not only a bad idea — it’s illegal in Lancaster as well.

According to City Ordinance 285-105, leaving a vehicle unattended while idling with the key in the ignition is illegal, and subject to fines of up to $50.

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