DARIEN — As temperatures drop and flurries hit, Darien residents may be tempted to leave cars running in the morning to warm them up before driving. However, police warn residents that idle cars may not only be subject to theft but could also be breaking the law.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), one out of every five stolen vehicles had keys in them, while nearly half of vehicles were unlocked when stolen. Darien has seen several car thefts and dozens of thefts from unlocked vehicles this year.

Police caution residents to consider this before leaving their car running to warm up, whether it be in their driveway or in a parking lot while running an errand.

Darien police suggest that drivers who need to leave their cars idling have two sets of keys so the car can be locked while running. Additionally, police suggest the use of remote car starters to start the car without having to unlock it. These starters also require the key to be in the ignition for the car to be put into drive, making it harder for these cars to be stolen.

Additionally, a 2004 regulation from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection prohibits all vehicles from unnecessary idling for more than three minutes. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, once started, a car does not take more than 30 seconds to warm up.

ekayata@hearstmediact.com; @erin_kayata

More Information

Exceptions to the regulation on idling:

When a vehicle is forced to remain motionless because of traffic conditions or mechanical difficulties over which the operator has no control

When it is necessary to operate defrosting, heating or cooling equipment to ensure the safety or health of the driver or passengers

When it is necessary to operate auxiliary equipment that is located in or on the vehicle to accomplish the intended use

To bring the vehicle to the manufacturer’s recommended operating temperature

When the outdoor temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit

When the vehicle is undergoing maintenance that requires it to be operated for more than three consecutive minutes

When a vehicle is in queue to be inspected by U.S. military personnel prior to gaining access to a U.S. military installation