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Pocatello police seeing car thefts rise during winter

Unlocked car warming up? I think I'll take that.

POCATELLO, Idaho - During the winter months, many people turn on their car to let it warm up while they stay inside, usually leaving their car unlocked – and everything in it – available for anyone who wants to take it.

"Pocatello is a safe place," said First-Class Patrol Officer Akilah Lacey.  "It's a good place to raise your family and everything, but there is still crime that takes place. So a lot of complacency tends to take place in the public, as far as leaving their doors unlocked."

Lacey said the police can usually find a way to track down your car, but that's not always the case.

"Things have happened with different GPS tracking," Lacey said.  "People may have OnStar or they might leave their iPad in the car.  But I have two on my case load right now that we're still looking for."

Lacey said there are a few ways to avoid car theft, like a remote start for your car, or bringing all valuables inside to deter thieves.  He also said using your spare key regularly can help protect your car from thieves.   

"So if you do warm up your car, usually you have two sets of keys," he said.  "So if you start it, try to lock it with a separate set so you can get in it later."

Lacey said even if you do get your car back, there could be some costs involved that insurance may not pay for.  He said officers will work with the car owner to find out what will work best for them to recover the car, and it's not always a tow.  

"We don't want to tow the car if it's going to cost them a bunch of money," said Lacey, "So if they can meet us out there in an hour, we might sit out there for an hour and wait until they get there."

He also said sometimes they will do their best to secure the car as safely as possible until the owner can get to it, hopefully remembering their spare key.

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