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K5 News

A Puyallup woman learned the hard way: don’t leave your car unattended in the driveway, warming up on a cold morning. Hers was stolen in just a matter of minutes, and police say this isn’t the first or last case they’ll see during the cold winter months.

This most recent theft happened at about 8:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Gail Reed says her daughter started the car in the driveway, then went inside to finish getting helping her four-year-old get ready. She returned to the driveway just four minutes later, and the car was gone.

“It’s a clear warning to make sure you don’t leave your vehicle warming up without someone inside,” said Reed. “You feel very violated, and very non-trusting of people now.”

Her family’s stolen car is a Blue Hyundai Elantra with a child’s car seat in the back and front end damage on the car’s bumper. It has Washington plate number ARJ2919. If you’ve seen it, you’re urged to call the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office.

It was just last week when Renton Police issued a warning about this particular kind of car theft, reminding people not to leave their cars running, even in their own driveway. Renton has seen five similar cases since the beginning of December.

Renton Police said thieves even have street names for cars stolen in this manner. They call them “steamers” or “puffers” because thieves look for the exhaust coming from the muffler of an idling car.

If the inconvenience of a stolen car isn’t enough motivation, consider this: it is also against Washington state law to leave a motor vehicle running and unattended. Drivers caught doing so can be fined.