As vehicle thefts rise, police urge owners not to leave cars to warm up

Harper Ho
York Dispatch

Vehicle thefts have recently become a growing problem, and police are urging people to avoid being an easy target. 

There have been 43 vehicle thefts reported in York City alone since November, said York City Police spokesperson Lt. Dan Lentz.

"It has become an issue that we have noticed," he said Friday. "I think it's just crimes of opportunity."

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A car idles in the parking lot at Gifford Pinchot State Park in Warrington Township, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Dawn J. Sagert photo

January has had 17 cases so far, December had 11 and November had 15, according to Lentz's count.

The thieves aren't targeting any particular area, he said. The thefts appear to be spread throughout the city.

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The problem is that people leave their vehicles running, unattended or unlocked while they're warming up their cars, police said.

"Now is the perfect time," Lentz said. "They'll go back inside to stay warm for a couple minutes. They'll come back out and their car is gone."

Spring Garden Township Police are also imploring people "to do their part" after the department saw a slew of vehicle thefts.

Two of the three cars thefts this month in Spring Garden Township involved unattended idling vehicles, police said. 

Roughly 16 vehicle thefts from mid-December through mid-January in York City happened for the same reason, Lentz said.

"We urge motorists not to leave their vehicles unattended while running," Spring Garden police said, adding that the practice is also illegal in Pennsylvania. 

The only time it's acceptable is with remote start, Lentz said. Keys cannot be in the ignition. 

"In prior years, when we noticed that these become a problem, we have started citing people," Lentz said.  

— Reach Harper Ho at or on Twitter at @howdyhoharper.