Maryland State Police Warns Motorists of Dangers of Leaving Vehicles Running Unattended

December 1, 2021

As the temperature begins to decrease, the chances of your vehicle being stolen increases, if you do not take the proper precautions, a case from over the weekend in Harford County highlights.

Shortly before 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, a trooper from the Maryland State Police Bel Air Barrack attempted to conduct a traffic stop on westbound Route 22 at Sablewood Road in Bel Air, Maryland for a 2014 Hyundai Elantra that had been reported stolen in Pennsylvania. According to a preliminary investigation, after the trooper activated his emergency lights, he saw all four occupants of the Hyundai bail out of the vehicle before they fled southbound on Redfield Road.

Shortly thereafter, the Bel Air Barrack received a call of another stolen vehicle on the 900 block of Pentwood Court in Bel Air, Maryland. This occurred just a few blocks away from the bailout on Sablewood Road. In the second case, the victim told investigators that he had walked outside to start up his 1997 silver Honda Civic to allow it to warm up that morning.  The victim said that when he returned to his vehicle it was gone from its location.

According to the Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council, a car is stolen every 49 minutes in Maryland and every 39 seconds in the United States.

Overall, 10,683 vehicles were stolen in Maryland in 2020, down from 11,255 in 2019. Of those, 50 percent of vehicles stolen in Maryland had keys inside the vehicle and 60 percent of the vehicles stolen were left unlocked.

Maryland State Police also want to remind motorists that leaving your vehicle running unattended not only increases the chances of it getting stolen, it is also illegal.  According to state law, police can issue a ticket with a $70 fine and one point against your driving record for such a violation. Also, if the vehicle slips out of gear and causes an accident, you could be issued a ticket with a $110 fine and three points against your driving record.

Simply taking a few steps greatly reduce the chances of a motorist having their vehicle stolen. These steps include:

  • Close and lock all windows and doors when you park.
  • Park in well-lit areas.
  • Do not leave the area while your vehicle is running.
  • Do not leave your keys/key fobs in your vehicle.
  • Always stow away your valuables.

The Maryland General Assembly created the Vehicle Theft Prevention Council in 1994 as a statewide planning and dedicated funding resource. The Council embraces a statewide strategy directed at public awareness, vehicle theft by juveniles, law enforcement and prosecution through a grant award process. Efforts by the Vehicle Theft Prevention Council have led to a more than 72 percent reduction of vehicle thefts in Maryland over the past 27 years.

For more information on vehicle thefts in Maryland, click here and here.