PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. — (Editor's Note: The video above is from August 28, 2020)
Police in Prince George's County are warning residents against leaving their cars running unattended as temperatures drop and crimes of opportunity rise.
According to a release from the Prince George's Police Department (PGPD), jump-in car thefts often increase during the fall and winter seasons since people tend to leave their vehicles running unattended in order to warm up.
In the release, police included a surveillance video that showed an alleged jump-in theft from Sept. 21, 2021. A timer edited onto the video shows the theft only took 20 seconds.
PGPD reports that there have been 610 vehicle jump-in thefts reported across the county so far in 2021. That is a significant increase compared to the same time last year where police say 388 reported jump-in thefts.
In October, PGPD shared another video of an alleged jump-in vehicle theft at a gas station. That alleged theft took less than 10 seconds.
Police say this kind of theft often occurs in residential neighborhoods as well as outside businesses.
“These are crimes of opportunity and we cannot stress enough how dangerous it is to leave a car running unattended,” said Lt. Justice Halsey of our Strategic Investigations Division. "Even for a few seconds. That’s all it takes for criminals. What’s worse, is that in many of our stolen car cases, the cars are then used in other crimes."
Police say to remember:
- Never leave your children in a running vehicle unattended
- Push-to-start vehicles left running unattended can also be stolen
- Never leave a key fob in your vehicle
- Stay with your car as it warms up
If you have any information regarding any jump-in vehicle thefts, call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).