During the winter months, many motorists are tempted to leave their vehicle running in an attempt to warm up the interior of the vehicle prior to getting behind the wheel. However, this practice is one that causes many problems. Missoula Police Public Information Officer Travis Welsh explains.

“There are people out there who are waiting for just such opportunities to get in your car and drive away, leaving you without it,” Welsh said. “We would just like to remind people and suggest that they have alternative means to secure their vehicles when it is warming in the morning, either by a second key or with the use of a keyless start, or at least have their vehicles somewhere where they can keep an eye on it while it is warming.”

In addition, the holiday shopping season is right around the corner and criminals are looking for vehicles to target.

“We would also like to remind people to secure their valuables in their car, lock your vehicles securely, and don’t leave items in plain sight where they can be seen from the outside,” Welsh said. “Valuables laying in a car is an opportunity for crime and criminals will take advantage of that. We would ask that you take your packages with you, secure them in your trunk, or take them home before going back out again. Do whatever it takes to keep yourselves and your property safe. Do what you can and don’t be a victim.”

Regardless of the time of year, Welsh encourages everyone to lock their vehicles and secure their valuables because theft doesn’t take a holiday.

“It is always better to hide those packages in your vehicle because even if your door is locked, some will actually do what they need to do to make entry and take those things from you,” Welsh said. “Generally speaking, it is never a good idea to leave things out in plain view of your vehicles and it is never a good idea to leave them unlocked.”

Always roll up the windows and lock your car, even if it is in your driveway, garage, or in front of your home. Welsh also recommends parking your car in busy, well-lit areas.