Last December, six area chiefs of police issued a joint plea for residents to not leave cars running unattended during the winter months. Some folks apparently did not get the message.
The usual scenario involves a resident warming up a car by leaving it running at the curb or in the driveway in the morning. That historically causes a spike in stolen cars: more than 27 times in northeast Johnson County in the year preceding the plea from the chiefs.
Earlier this month officer John DeMoss in Roeland Park made a sweep of neighborhoods in the city west of Roe Avenue one morning checking for running cars. In the two hours from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m., DeMoss found 17 cars left running and unattended. It is against both state and municipal law to leave a running car with the keys in the ignition unattended. The exception to that is if the owner uses a remote starter.
DeMoss found four of the 17 were using a remote starter and they were cleared. Nine received citations for leaving the cars running with keys in the ignition – many of them unlocked – and four received verbal warnings.
Roeland Park Police Chief John Morris said the city had only one car stolen so far this winter while it was running with the keys in it – back in November.
The December letter was signed by Morris, Wes Jordan of Prairie Village, Mike Fleming of Fairway, Mike Daniels of Merriam, Ben Hadley of Mission and Greg O’Halloran of Westwood.