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I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often

January 7th, 2015 at 05:56pm

I saw it a lot when I was in the US last year, especially in the colder northern states where Winter had no intention of letting up, and I did wonder how many cars are stolen because of it. My initial thought was the risk of being shot while stealing a car probably deters most casual opportunistic joyriders, but for some that risk might seem better than the risk of freezing in the elements.

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. – Car thefts have risen drastically since the first of January in Blue Springs.
[..]
“Within the last six days, there have been eight car thefts, five of them between the hours of 5 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. on a Monday morning,” [Jennifer Dachenhausen, Public Information Officer and Crime Analyst for the Blue Springs Police Department] says. “These cars were all left unattended to warm up, before people headed to work.”

(emphasis added)
(h/t KMBZ Radio, Kansas City)

As I did a bit of driving at night in the cold and snowy bits of the US last year, I probably saw more than my fair share of unattended cars which had been left running. The time which struck me as being most peculiar was seeing about a dozen cars in the carpark of a 24/7 Walmart, with about eight or nine of them running unattended, at about 9pm, in the small town of Fort Dodge, Iowa. It was snowing and there appeared to be more running cars in the carpark than customers in the store, which led me to believe some of the running cars belonged to staff. The carpark was also almost devoid of people and I really doubt that anybody would have noticed if somebody had just hopped in to someone else’s car and driven off.

The article has another peculiar line which caught my attention when I heard it mentioned on KMBZ earlier today.

Since the thefts, two of the cars have been located at two different hotels in the Blue Springs area.

Could it be that tourists without their own transport, not wanting to wait in sub-freezing windy and snowy weather for a taxi, opted for a convenient but illegal method of transportation? Given how cold it gets there, I can understand if they did…not that I would endorse it, but I do understand the motivation.

Submitting insurance claims on those thefts must be a very interesting and difficult experience.

Samuel

Entry Filed under: Bizarreness

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2 Comments

  • 1. nbrettoner  |  January 7th, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    Hi Samuel,

    During my one~and~only ‘Big OE’ (discounting my 20 years in NZ) to Canada, I stayed with friends in Edmonton Alberta. They very kindly took me on a 5-day tour of The Rockies & the Pairie-lands to the south.
    They had a Studybaker/Dodge? ‘People Carrier’ type wagon. I noted a handy extra button on their remote, which started the engine, & if previously left on; the airconditioner. It (the security remote access control) had a good range, which meant that when in ambient temperatures of the mid-thirties, you clambered into a nicely-cooling interior. đŸ™‚
    It was a separate control from the door lock, so it’s possible that even ‘though the engine started up, the vehicle was still locked.

  • 2. Samuel  |  January 9th, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    A few of them do, but as I understand it a lot of the cheaper cars have it as an optional extra rather than a standard feature, if they even offer it at all.

    I didn’t want to mention it earlier, but I can’t see the harm now that I’ve given it some thought…a few times when I saw a bunch of unattended running cars in the US, I walked past the driver’s side window of the cars which were between my car and the store, and almost all had keys in the ignition. Some were even very obviously unlocked and could be clearly seen to be unlocked from a distance.

    I don’t think the remote start function is being used or installed as much as it could be. I dare say the insurance companies are making a pretty penny out of increased premiums on these unsecured cars.


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