Leaving Your Car Running Could Cost You - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Leaving Your Car Running Could Cost You

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With extreme cold holding steady throughout the area it may be tempting for drivers to take extreme measures to have a warm car. Many drivers leave their cars running in busy parking lots even though that is breaking the law.

It is a common sight in parking lots when temperatures are this low. People say they are just running into the store while they leave the key in the ignition and the engine running. But police say doing that is not worth the consequences.

"It makes it a lot easier for those willing to steal a motor vehicle to get into a running motor vehicle and take it with the keys in there and the ignition running," said Sergeant William Greenwalt with the Clinton Police Department.

In just an hour at Target and Hy-Vee in Clinton TV6 crews spotted dozens of cars with exhausts fuming and empty seats. Besides car theft, officers also worry about smaller passengers that could get behind the wheel. "A child could get in there, turn that vehicle gear shift and move it to drive or reverse," added Greenwalt.

That's why in many states, including Iowa and Illinois, it's illegal to leave your car running at a public place. However, drivers continue to do it.

"In the winter I do it all the time," said Amber Metzger. Metzger left her car on for more than 10 minutes while shopping at Target. "I just want to come out from the stores, have a warm car, get in, go, not worry about frost getting up on the windows or if it's snowing," added Metzger.

Several other drivers were doing the same thing, but too embarrassed to talk about it. Metzger says her remote start is enough to keep anyone from stealing her car, or anything out of it, like her GPS. "I'm going to keep doing it yep. While it's this cold I am," she said.

Other drivers say no matter what the temperatures they won't risk it. "It's crazy, I mean, they're just asking for someone to either steal it or get in it or take something out of it," said Kim Penca.

If you do plan to leave your car running unattended, in both Iowa and Illinois you could face hefty fines. It may be hundreds of dollars depending on the number of times you get caught.