From the Harford County Sheriff’s Office:
The Harford County Sheriff’s Office Auto Theft Unit will be conducting proactive investigations beginning February 18, 2013 and continuing randomly throughout the winter months to raise public awareness for people who leave their vehicle’s engine running and unattended.
Sgt. Dawn Wolf, Supervisor of the Sheriff’s Office Property Crimes Unit, says members of the Auto Theft Unit will be conducting targeted enforcement while members of the Sheriff’s Office Criminal Patrol will conduct random patrols of shopping areas, convenience stores and residential communities looking for vehicles left running and unattended. “Leaving a vehicle running and unattended is illegal in Maryland”, says Sgt. Wolf, who emphasized by leaving their vehicle running people make their cars easier for a thief to steal. Wolf explained that while police know homeowners start their cars in the morning to warm the engine those who leave them running and unattended at convenience stores are exposed to the highest risk. “Convenience stores are very busy in the morning and commuters are not necessarily paying attention to their surroundings”. A car thief will seize upon any chance and leaving your vehicle running presents the thief with an easy opportunity”, Wolf said.
Maryland law prohibits drivers from leaving a vehicle unattended until the engine is stopped, the ignition locked and the key remove. Police can issue a traffic citation to any driver found in violation and if found guilty could face a fine of $70 and one-point on their driving record.
Sgt. Wolf said, national auto theft statistics report a car is stolen every 27 seconds in the United State and every 15 minutes in Maryland. “According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 50% of the vehicles stolen had their keys left in the vehicle”, she concluded.