Wichita police look for idling vehicles

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Wichita police are looking for vehicles left unattended this morning.

The “warming assignment” happens from 5:30-7:30 a.m. all around the city.

If police find an idling vehicle, they will place a flyer on the windshield. The flyer lets the individual know that Kansas law prohibits a person from leaving the vehicle running unattended for any amount of time.

KSA 8-1573

      8-1573.   Unattended Motor Vehicle. (a) No person driving or in charge of a motor vehicle shall permit it to stand unattended without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition, removing the key from the ignition, effectively setting the brake thereon and, when standing upon any grade, turning the front wheels to the curb or side of the highway.        (b)   For the purpose of this section, unattended shall not be construed to mean a motor vehicle with an engine that has been activated by a remote starter system, when the motor vehicle is locked and when the ignition keys are not in the motor vehicle. 

“We do see auto thefts because of this action, where vehicles are left warming unattended,” said Wichita Police Officer Charley Davidson. “Then they’re an easy target for somebody to get into the vehicle and leave with their vehicle.”

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Davidson said thefts of idling vehicles mostly occur in the early morning. However, it’s not uncommon for this type of crime to happen during the daytime.

He added that it’s an opportunistic crime.

“It takes matters of seconds for a vehicle that’s left unlocked, running unattended, for somebody to just get in that vehicle, put it into reverse or drive, whatever the case may be and then leave with that vehicle very quickly,” Davidson said.

Police patrol neighborhoods for running, unattended cars every year, as temperatures drop.

The last warming assignment happened on November 22.

Number of flyers given out:

  • Patrol East – 20 flyers
  • Patrol North – 11 flyers
  • Patrol South – 15 flyers
  • Patrol West – 28 flyers
  • TOTAL – 74 flyers

Wichita police hope this effort serves as a reminder to the community to take the extra ten minutes in the morning to wait inside their vehicle while warming it, and not to be an easy target.

According to Wichita police, there were 187 auto thefts in 2016, where the individual admitted to leaving their vehicle unattended. Police said they had a 74-percent recovery rate of the vehicles.

In 2017, so far, there have been 186 self-admitted reports of idling car thefts.

Davidson said vehicles recovered aren’t always found in the best condition.

“It may be damaged,” he said. “Something inside may be damaged or items may be missing from the vehicle, if it is in fact recovered.”

Wichita police plan  to report how many flyers they give out this morning at their police briefing at 10 a.m.