Warm up your car, but be warned of the risks of leaving it - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Warm up your car, at your own risk

IOWA CITY (KWWL) - Most of us have done it: started the car and ran back inside, to let it warm up. Police say when the temperatures go down, the number of car thefts tend to rise as people leave vehicles running.

Starting your car and then leaving it carries certain risks, including theft and fines from police.

"This winter's been pretty cold, so we're pretty busy," said Jeremy Parrish, sales manager at Auto Toyz in Coralville. The shop has been installing remote starter systems left and right, and for a good reason: they come equipped with security measures, making them safer than simply leaving your keys in the ignition.

"If somebody was actually to get into the vehicle while the vehicle was remote-started, as soon as someone was to get into it that didn't have a key, it would shut down."

But even with those safety features, it's still illegal to leave a running vehicle unattended in most cities. That means you could get a ticket if you leave your car after starting it, whether it was remotely started or not. Allstate Insurance agent Doug Myrick says those laws are there for the public's own good.

"It helps individuals prevent against theft, so if you leave your keys in the car, the potential propensity is there for someone to come along and take it," Myrick explained.

Most insurance companies will cover the loss if you have comprehensive coverage. However, Myrick strongly recommends staying in your car as it warms up. And, if you have a remote starter installed, be sure to notify your insurance company.

"They need to notify their agent to have it added on as an endorsement on the policy. If [the vehicle] came with remote start, it's automatically covered, as long as it's manufacturer-installed."

Police in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City say they usually won't go around looking for unattended and running vehicles, but if they spot one, they will write a ticket.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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