Owners could be held liable if car stolen while warming up - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Owners could be held liable if car stolen while warming up

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

As the weather turns cooler, police say they are seeing an increase in the number of cars stolen after being left unattended to warm up.

Metro police say an unattended car was stolen Thursday morning in Old Hickory when the driver ran back inside for a moment and returned to find the vehicle missing.

Officers found the car in a nearby parking lot and returned it to the owner.

In another case, a man's car was stolen Thursday morning while it was left warming up in the 200 block of 32nd Avenue North.

The victim called 911, and officers started searching the area.

Police spotted the stolen vehicle and say two people jumped out and ran in different directions.

A K-9 team was called to assist with the search, which is focused on the 1400 block of Robinson Road, but no arrests have been made.

Still, it's the car owners, not the thieves, who could get tickets for these types of crimes.

A Metro law states it is illegal to leave an unlocked vehicle running with the keys in it and no one inside.

State law is even tougher. It says the owner could be held responsible if the thief crashes the car.

In December 2010, a woman in Murfreesboro was allowed to sue the car owner and the car owner's grandson who left the keys in a stolen car that struck hers.

There are a couple of ways around this law. For cars with remote starts, the law does allow a car to run unattended if it is on private property, locked and doesn't have a key in the ignition.

The other option, unfortunately, would be to leave early and brave the cold to warm-up the car before taking off.

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