A central Minnesota sheriff's office is warning residents not to idle their vehicles, after recent auto thefts from local gas stations.
The Sherburne County Sheriff's Office said twice in the past week, thieves took vehicles from local gas station parking lots. The sheriff's office doesn't provide many details about the incidents, but suggests victims may have left the cars running while they went inside to buy something.
"Thieves are in parking lots waiting for you to leave your car running and unattended," the sheriff's office wrote. "Don't make it so easy for them."
Cities across the state have reported an uptick in auto thefts at various times over the past year, including quite recently in Golden Valley where five vehicles were reported stolen in a 24-hour span.
Earlier this fall, the Hennepin and Ramsey County sheriff's offices partnered with the Department of Commerce's Fraud Bureau to remind people to lock their cars, Axios reported.
A recent state auto theft prevention report found that, in the majority of motor vehicle thefts, the keys were inside the vehicle at the time.
"Approximately 60% of vehicles stolen in the metro area and as high as 90% in Greater Minnesota, are done with the keys," the report said, listing this is one of the main challenge areas in preventing vehicle thefts.
It's also worth noting that even when it's cold, you don't need to "warm up" your car. As the MPCA explains, that cold-weather idling was necessary when vehicles ran on carburetors. Most cars made in the past 25 years now use electronic fuel injection, which means for most people, having to "warm up" a vehicle so it runs properly is a myth.
"If you are idling your car to defrost the windows or warm up the inside so your kids won't freeze, that's one thing," the MPCA writes. "But if you are idling your car because you think the car's engine needs it — don't."