Police warn against puffing vehicles as temperatures plunge

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DENVER -- With temperatures plunging below zero in the Denver metro area on Thursday morning, police are reminding drivers to not puff their vehicles.

It's illegal to leave a vehicle running attended to warm it up, but it's still a big problem across the metro area, particularly in southwest Denver.

Last winter, more than 200 vehicles were stolen in District 4 and 33 percent of those taken from October to March were because of puffing. Some of the vehicles then were used in other crimes.

"It can happen very, very quickly," Denver police Cmdr. Mark Fleecs said. "I don’t think people realize that if they turn their back in a couple of seconds, somebody could be in that car and put it in reverse or drive and drive away. It can happen very, very quickly."

Police said some people drive around in a vehicle that already has been stolen to look for another one. They look for vehicles with exhaust spewing out smoke.

Fleecs said about 10 days ago, a vehicle was taken as a result of puffing and about 30 minutes later, that vehicle was used in a smash-and-grab burglary in another part of the city.

 

The law says owners can't start a vehicle and leave it running with the keys inside on a public street. It's a $100 fine and police have been out to enforce the law.

It's not illegal to do it in a private driveway, though the risk of a vehicle getting stolen is increased.

 

Police say installing a remote start or putting a lock on the steering wheel are good preventive measures.

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