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Police issue warning after 3 cars, left running to warm up, are stolen

Crime Watch

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POCATELLO — If you start your car in the morning and leave it unattended, be sure you lock your doors.

That’s the message from the Pocatello Police Department after three vehicles were stolen Thursday morning.

The first car was taken by two suspects from the Thunderbird Motel at 1415 South 5th Avenue.

“The owner had the keys in the ignition and it was running to warm up. The doors weren’t locked,” police spokeswoman Dianne Brush tells

Brush says the thieves crashed the car at Yellowstone Avenue and Pine Street. They left the scene, walked to Pershing Avenue and stole another vehicle that was running without an occupant inside.

“That owner called right away and an officer immediately saw the vehicle. He got it stopped and those people were arrested,” Brush said.

Brush said a third vehicle, also running without an occupant, was stolen in a separate incident elsewhere in the city.

About four in 10 United States drivers either always or sometimes warm up their cars in the winter while leaving it unattended and operating, according to a 2019 poll conducted by Branded Research. The poll also found that about one in 10 consumers have experienced car theft as a result.

During winter, auto theft rises by about 25 percent, according to Alex Lauderdale, a transportation analyst at

“This occurs largely [because] winter nights are longer and darker, offering car thieves more time and cover to carry out large numbers of vehicle thefts,” Lauderdale told AccuWeather. “People are also more likely to leave their cars unattended on cold mornings while they let them warm up and defrost, offering thieves the perfect opportunity to strike.”

In addition to locking your doors, police say to not let your car out of your sight while deicing, park in a well-lit area and don’t keep unattended valuables in your vehicle.