Intoxicated 14-Year-Old Steals Idling Cars
Few know it's illegal to leave cars idling without auto-start
At about 7 o’clock Wednesday morning, Anchorage police say a 14-year-old boy got drunk and stole two cars whose owners had left them running to warm them up.
The case has brought to light the existence of a law you probably didn't know existed.
It's illegal in Anchorage to keep your car or truck running, unless you have an auto-start.
It's a Catch-22 here in Alaska because it’s winter and everyone warms up their cars, which is why police say today's bizarre theft of two vehicles in less than an hour is a good reminder how to keep your car heated without breaking the law.
Wednesday morning one intoxicated teenager saw an opportunity in East Anchorage. “He got into the car because it was idling to warm up and he took off,” said Lt. Dave Parker, APD’s spokesperson. First he took a blue Dodge Stratus, but he ended up crashing it into a snow bank, and less than 30 minutes later he found a maroon Mazda Tribute. “This car also was idling, warming he hopped into that car and drove away,” said Parker.
Two stolen cars not just on one street, but two in different neighborhoods: That can easily happen to any one of us if you leave your vehicles unattended. That's illegal, which police say all boils down to how you use your keys because it's against the law to leave your car running with them in the ignition.
This also applies if you lock your keys inside. “If you turn on the car and leave a key in the ignition, three-eighths of an inch separates a thief from that key,” said Parker. “When you leave it running it’s an invitation for someone to steal that.”
The only way around it is with an auto-start. “Use that rather than face the possibility of having someone hop in their car and steal it as this young man did,” said Parker.
It’s common sense advice that, in the long run, will cost you a lot less money and headaches. You could get a $50 fine if you leave your car with the key in the ignition running on a public street. According to municipal ordinance, you can leave it running on private lots, but police do not recommend it anywhere.