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Police to crack down on Utah city's idling cars after wave of preventable thefts

A wave of preventable car thefts in a Utah city has prompted police to step up enforcement of a state law that prohibits unattended, idling vehicles.

Car thefts are on the increase in part because of residents who go out to warm up their vehicles on cold mornings and leave them unattended, Ogden Police Deputy Director John Harvey said.

According to the police department, 36 of 82 vehicle thefts over the last 90 days involved cars that were left running and unattended. Another 34 thefts involved unlocked cars.

Harvey said while it's tempting to leave for work in a warm car, the risks are not worth leaving an unattended vehicle.

"A cold car is better than no car," he told the Standard Examiner of Ogden.

State law prohibits drivers from leaving a vehicle unattended without stopping the engine and removing the keys from the ignition.

Officers will begin actively enforcing the law this week by devoting more resources to the problem and by issuing $40 citations to violators.

Harvey said the thefts are a drain on police resources that could go to more important matters, and the public can help by not leaving their cars running and unattended.

He said while the department will use new ways to combat the high number of thefts, it has a good record of tracking down stolen cars. Most stolen cars are found abandoned only a few blocks away or close to where another car was stolen.

But some stolen cars are taken to "chop shops" for parts or used to commit more serious crimes, he added.

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