At least five car thefts since New Year’s Day have city police asking residents to avoid leaving cars unattended while warming them up.
City police spokesman Officer Nick Mannix said that doing so leaves cars vulnerable to being stolen.
“We’re trying more or less to have our residents be diligent and be aware of the situation,” Mannix said. “We don’t want this crime to keep happening.”
Mannix suggested residents who want to warm their car should stay with it, even if it’s cold.
He called such car thefts a crime of opportunity.
“If they’re looking to cause trouble, that’s all they need,” Mannix said.
Mannix said that leaving a car running unattended on a public street is actually a violation of state Vehicle and Traffic Law that could bring a fine.
Schenectady’s reminder to residents comes after a weekend incident in Albany where someone left his vehicle running unattended after 6 p.m. Saturday on Lark Street and someone stole it. An officer soon spotted the car, but the suspect speed off, starting a brief chase. The suspect lost control of the vehicle and struck a home.
Police took the suspect, identified as Xavier Bolden, 16, of Albany, into custody and charged him with felony possession of stolen property.
Schenectady police are also investigating a similar incident, though involving keys left in a non-running car, from New Year’s Eve in Mont Pleasant. In that case, two individuals found keys in one car and learned they went to another and tried to steal it. After hitting the house and a van, they fled on foot. The homeowner released a video of the incident.