Avoiding being the victim of auto warmup theft

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — We know temperatures are chilly with this Arctic blast moving through but you can’t leave your car running alone outside to warm up.

On Wednesday morning, a black Chevrolet Equinox was reported to have been stolen while warming up near Lomas and Juan Tabo. The New Mexico Office of Superintendent of Insurance says cases like that contribute to a 25-30% increase in auto thefts during the winter months.

The Albuquerque Police Department has handled as many as 29 auto warmup theft cases in one month and you can be cited by an officer for leaving your running car unattended.

If it does get stolen while warming up, though, your insurance may or may not cover it. For example, Progressive generally covers you if you have comprehensive coverage but anything less and you may have to cover all expenses. It’s best to check with your insurer or your agent about what your policy entails.

The state’s OSI has these tips for avoiding warmup theft:

  • Do not leave an unattended car warming up outside your home
  • If you must warm up your car, stay with your car while it is warming up, and limit idling
    to about 30 seconds (Check your car’s manual for the recommended time for warming up the
  • If you use a remote starter, make sure the key fob is far enough away that the car cannot
    be driven
  • Never leave children or pets in an unattended vehicle

In general, the office has these auto theft prevention tips:

  • Save a picture of your car registration and insurance on your cell phone, and do not leave
    important paperwork or other personal information in the vehicle
  • Do not leave your garage door opener in the vehicle. If your car is stolen, a thief can use
    the garage door opener to gain access to your home
  • Keep valuables out of sight or in the trunk. Purses, briefcases, computer bags, credit
    cards and cell phones in plain view attract thieves
  • Always roll up the windows and lock your car, even if it is in your driveway or in front of
    your home
  • Never leave the vehicle title in your car. If stolen, it makes it easier for the thief to
    dispose of your vehicle. It can also make you a target for identity theft
  • Install a mechanical locking device – commonly called a club, collar, or j-bar – that locks
    to the steering wheel, column, or brake
  • If your vehicle has an alarm or other anti-theft device, use it