Several cars stolen as drivers let them 'warm up' in the cold - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Several cars stolen as drivers let them 'warm up' in the cold

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)

The cold February is behind us, but another round of winter weather could strike Wednesday

When the temperatures drop, many Mid-Southerners crank up their cars and run back inside their houses to wait for the car to warm up. But this winter, several people had their cars stolen as they sat idling in the driveway.

It happened to Stephanie Gatewood on Saturday after she spent 12 hours volunteering to help teach kids how to read.

"It's embarrassing to say," Gatewood said. "I ought to know better [than] cranking my car to warm it up, right?"

Gatewood says her whole life was inside her car, including her Bible.

"What if they looked on the envelope and found out where I live, and are going to come over and get me?"

But, Gatewood is not alone.

Last week, a woman left her minivan idling in her driveway on Kozar Avenue. A few minutes later, she looked out the window to see two people backing her minivan out of the driveway. The Saturday before that, another woman's car was stolen in a similar way on Childers Cove.

"If I could help anybody, I would say 'Just take a minute,'" Gatewood said. "Don't warm your car up. If you are going to warm your car up, lock it behind you."

Not only is it a bad idea to leave your car idling to warm up, it's also illegal. 

Last week, WMC Action News 5 learned drivers who leave their cars running could be fined. You could also be liable for any damage caused if the thief crashes your car. 

Experts also say the notion your car needs extended time to idle before driving away in the cold is just a myth.

Mechanics say cars only need 10 seconds before they're warmed up to drive.

If you're someone looking to save a buck or two, keep in mind that an idling car can burn up to a half-gallon of gas in one hour.

Meanwhile, Gatewood says she's learned her lesson and hopes other people will take heed.

"At least I have my life. That's a happy thought, I suppose."

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