OAK CREEK - Oak Creek police are warning residents not to leave their vehicles running and unattended after two vehicles were stolen within a 15-minute period on Feb. 2.

The first vehicle, a maroon Ford Explorer, was reported stolen in the 100 block of East Fitzsimmons at about 4:45 a.m. The Explorer was left running in the driveway, with the keys in the ignition, when it was taken.

While investigating that call, police received another report that a vehicle was stolen out of a driveway in the 200 block of East Stuart Drive at about 5 a.m. When police went to that home they found the stolen Explorer, with the engine still running, parked on the street.

The suspect apparently abandoned the Explorer to steal the second vehicle, a Volkswagen Passat, which had also been left running in a driveway on Stuart Drive, with the keys in the ignition.The Passat owner told police she left her vehicle running while she ran into her house to get her glasses. She stated she didn’t see or hear anything unusual before it was stolen.

Thefts of running, unattended vehicles are very common, especially in the winter, according to Lt. David Ashenhurst of the Oak Creek Police Department.

“Despite the winter, and sometimes bitter cold weather, drivers should never leave their running vehicles unattended, with the key in the ignition” Ashenhurst stated. “It only takes a few seconds for someone to steal a running vehicle.”

The only exception, Ashenhurst said, are those who use a secure keyless starter to warm up their vehicle.

“In those cases, the vehicle remains locked and cannot be stolen without a key,” Ashenhurst said. “Drivers who do not have keyless starters should be more attentive to their vehicles.”

The stolen Passat was later found, crashed and abandoned, in Milwaukee. It was valued at $15,000.

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