Columbia Heights, Minn. – Now that the weather in Minnesota continues to get colder, and many residents may be tempted to leave their vehicles unattended while they warm up, the Columbia Heights Police Department (CHPD) would like to kindly remind everyone that this is not only a violation of City Ordinances, but also may expose you to becoming a victim of a crime.
No person in control of a motor vehicle, as owner or operator, shall permit such vehicle to stand unattended anywhere within the City of Columbia Heights, whether on public or private property, without first locking the ignition and removing the key from the vehicle. The only exception to this City Ordinance is if your vehicle offers a keyless remote start feature that allows the ignition to remain locked while the vehicle is warming up.
Each year, during the winter months, the CHPD see an increase in crime statistics for vehicle thefts when keys are left inside the ignition. These vehicle thefts usually take place in residential neighborhoods, however last year CHPD noticed an increase in the amount of vehicle thefts at convenience stores and gas stations while the owner left their vehicle unattended for only a moment.
“Open ignition crimes are crimes of opportunity where a perpetrator is not planning on committing a crime, but when presented with the opportunity, that individual acts on it in the moment,” stated Police Chief Lenny Austin. “These crimes are 100% avoidable.”
Please help the CHPD in preventing vehicle thefts by not leaving your vehicle running with the keys in the ignition.