Police warn drivers about ‘winter warm-up’ thefts

ST. LOUIS - When the temperatures drop, a particular cold weather-related crime is on the rise. Police are warning drivers that "warm-up thefts" are an easy crime of opportunity in the winter months.

Marquita Wright can attest first hand. This time last year, she was wrapping up her shift at about 6 a.m. at the Jack in the Box in Maplewood when her car was stolen.

“I turned the car on to let it heat up. Came back 15 minutes later and it was gone,” Wright said.

Surveillance video showed a van pull up next to her unattended Mercury Milan as it was heating up. A passenger in the van got out of his vehicle, entered the Milan, and sped off.

Warson Woods Police Sgt. Gene Tisius said his community saw only two such cases last year. But he said warm-up thefts happen in greater numbers in other parts of the metro area.

“It happens quite a bit,” Tisius said. “I know some of the newer cars have safety devices where it’s kind of hard to steal the car without the keys and the fobs and all of that. But a lot of the older cars, it can be stolen as long as they open the car door and get in.”

His advice to drivers?

“Stay in your car. Dress warm. And toughen up, I guess.”