SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – As we head into colder days, a reminder from local law enforcement that cars left unattended to be warmed up can easily be stolen.

“If you leave your car running with the keys in the ignition and you go inside, all it takes is a few seconds for someone to jump in and they are gone with your car,” Springfield Police Spokesperson Ryan Walsh warns.

We all want a warm and toasty car for our daily commutes, but police say this is a crime of opportunity. 22News spoke with local residents about steps they take to prevent falling victim to car theft.

“Definitely warm up the car and I usually sit in the car,” said Zo Brown of Northampton.

Becca Smith of Holyoke added, “I live on a fifth story apartment, so I sit in my car the entire time.”

And while not all of us have the patience to sit in the car while it is warming up, police say leaving it unattended while it’s running can be risky.

As of this November, the FBI reports that just over 745,000 vehicles have been stolen this year and here in Springfield, police have reported car thefts this past week.

“There was three or four of those exact situations where people are just jumping to a convenience store, grabbing a coffee, they go back out and their car is gone,” said Walsh

So what are some ways to keep your car protected? Police recommend:

  • Removing all valuables from your car, especially if they can be seen from outside the vehicle
  • Close and lock all windows and doors when you park and park in well-lit areas
  • Always take your car’s key with you
  • Never leave your car unattended while its running

If you are a victim of vehicle theft you should contact the police immediately.