MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WM BF) - You've probably broken the law on frigid mornings and not even known it! It is against South Carolina law to leave your car running while you're inside. Sure, we all want to a few minutes to warm up our vehicles before that morning commute, but local law enforcement say it only take s few seconds for thieves to drive off in your ride.
You're handing over the keys, and it's free ride on you. Myrtle Beach Police warn that leaving your car running and unattended to warm up is on open invitation for thieves.
Lt. Joey Crosby with Myrtle Beach Police said, "Just be very mindful of your environment; make sure your car is well protected. I would encourage you to use a garage to warm your car up instead warming your car along the roadway, cause leaving the car unattended does leave temptation for the car to be stolen."
While you want to let the windshield defrost, or jump into a warm car, law enforcement officials say it takes less than five seconds for a car thief to open the car door and drive away.
"Monitor who is in the parking lot, and keep your eye on the vehicle while it's running to make sure no one gets around it and takes the car," explained Crosby.
Not only do you entice car thieves, it's also against the law in South Carolina to leave your car running with no one inside. Officials say the fines can vary from $100 to $500, depending on what agency writes you the citation.
Lt. Crosby said Myrtle Beach officers won't be driving around looking to issue tickets for warming your car, but they do want you to use all security measures to protect you and your vehicle.
He adds, "Take any measure you can for the safety of your car, to make sure it doesn't get stolen. If you have a spare key, lock the key inside the car, take the spare key back inside with you. Again, be aware of the surroundings, but mindful that someone can still break the window."
He said the best way to keep your car from being stolen is to not leave unattended; also, you can crank it up and stay inside while it warms up.
Crosby said officers will not make it priority to issue tickets to people warming up their cars in front of their homes, or in their driveways, however, if you leave your vehicle idle while you run into the store, the mall or any public place, you could receive a citation.