Leaving your vehicle to warm-up could be an opportunity for criminals

By Taylor Chartrand
January 31, 2019 - 5:10pm Updated: January 31, 2019 - 7:07pm


Medicine Hat, AB - Environment Canada is forecasting temperatures over the next couple days to be around -20.

With that, residents may be tempted to leave their vehicle to idle while it warms up.

Although leaving a vehicle running may be nice, it's not always the safest option.

If you haven't seen this video already, it's the perfect example of what is known as 'a crime of opportunity'.

Inspector of Operations for the Medicine Hat Police Service (MHPS) Joe West said these sorts of crimes can definitely happen here in Medicine Hat.

"Obviously with colder weather there's a higher volume of people leaving their vehicles run," explained West. "We do see them at times, they're certainly crimes of opportunities, where a criminal is going to jump in your vehicle and drive off in it." 

West says we need to be alert everywhere, not just at home.

"We have had instances in the province where there's a child or pet in the vehicle and then the vehicle is stolen. There's just all kinds of risk that's not worth the convenience of leaving your vehicle running."

So, what can a person do to keep themselves both warm and protected against these crimes of opportunity.

"Don't leave your vehicle running of course and don't leave your keys in the vehicle. We still often have vehicle thefts that are the result of keys being hidden somewhere in the vehicle. There are some common places that people like to use and criminals know that." 

Another option a person could choose is installing a command start.

"It's allowing us to have more security," said Visions Assistant Manager Bart Greven. "The ability to not leave the house when your starting the vehicle is just an overall good experience."

One man who is thankful to have the security of command start in his vehicle is Justin Bourassa.

He said he certainly uses it when the temperatures drop.

"In the winter I do," said Bourassa. "It's just nice to have a warm vehicle to get into when you're on your way to work or going anywhere in the morning."

And Bourassa said like many others in the city, he's definitely guilty of leaving his vehicle running and unlocked when he shouldn't have.

"You go inside to say a convenience store and leave your vehicle running for two-minutes. I mean, you're in and out and you don't really think of it at the time. But, if your vehicle were to get stolen, you're kind of hooped."

Inspector West says his advice to residents like Bourassa is to always lock and secure your vehicle, as well as never leave contents of value in your car.

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