SMOKE SIGNALS: Police say thieves target unlocked running vehicl - WDRB 41 Louisville News

SMOKE SIGNALS: Police say thieves target unlocked running vehicles on cold winter mornings

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's tempting to leave your car running in the colder weather, but police say that's the exact time not to do it because criminals zero in on empty vehicles with puffs of smoke coming from the exhaust.  

Car thieves looking for crimes of opportunity are quick. They're fast. And they have a plan.

Police call it "puffing" -- leaving your car running while it warms up. The puffs of smoke from a car's exhaust become much more visible in the cold, and are a dead giveaway for thieves. 

Police say when the temperature drops, the number of stolen cars goes up. 

Leaving your car on with unlocked doors is not only unsafe, it's also illegal, and you can be cited for it. 

Police say thieves are looking for an opportunity, and some of them are young.

"In the cases where we're making arrests, we're seeing it's juveniles," said LMPD Sgt. Jason Grissom. "So that's kind of the theory we're working on, in that mainly we're looking at kids on the way to school -- instead of standing at a cold bus stop, they're seeing a nice warm car and deciding to take a ride in it for awhile."

Sgt. Grissom says his division has recovered 17 stolen cars. 

Police say the safest -- and legal -- way to warm up your car is to invest in a remote starter.

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