Puff at your own risk: Puffer enforcement week is now in effect

Published: Jan. 27, 2019 at 12:32 PM MST
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Jonathon was heading to work and was about to pull out of his driveway this morning when he realized he forgot to feed his dog.

"I decided to run back in real quick and leave the keys in the car and feed the dog which would only take a minute at most,” he told 11 News.

Monique was heading into work on a frigid morning. She decided to leave her car running while she ran inside to get paperwork.

"I came out, I started my car because it was sub-zero in the car, and went back in to get some paperwork and grab a few things."

Jonathon and Monique both returned to an empty driveway.

Puffing is one of the easiest ways to become a statistic. All crooks need are your keys and 30 seconds to make your car their car.

Colorado law enforcement in collaboration with Coloradans Against Auto Theft have designated the week of Jan. 27-Feb. 2 "Puffer Week." It's an attempt to raise awareness for what a CSPD lieutenant once called, "A 100 percent preventable crime."

The numbers are staggering:

- In a 2011 study, Coloradans Against Auto Theft found that 50 percent of cars stolen still have their keys in them.

- In 2016, more than 100 people lost their cars because they decided to leave them running unattended, according to Colorado Springs police.

- In 2018, 177 cars left running unattended were stolen.

- 60 percent of respondents to a statewide poll believe puffing is a top way vehicles get stolen -- but 31 percent admitted to doing it anyway.

“Car thieves cruise neighborhoods looking for that puff of exhaust on a cold morning," said Jennifer King-Sullivan, president of Colorado Auto Theft Investigators.

During the enforcement week, law enforcement will be on the lookout for puffers. If you're caught once, expect a $60 fine.

Remote starters are permitted.

Nearly 600 warnings were issued during last year's Puffer Week. Don't be a part of that total this year.

10 Tips for Preventing Auto Theft (Source: Coloradans Against Auto Theft)

  • Never leave your car running unattended.
  • In cold weather, warm up with your car: grab a hot cup of coffee, gloves and a blanket. It shouldn’t take long – most cars don’t need to idle for more than 1-2 minutes.
  • Park in an enclosed garage whenever possible.
  • Use a remote start if you have one, but make sure the doors are locked and the keyless start fob is far enough away that the vehicle can’t be moved.
  • Lock your doors every single time.
  • Always park in well-lit areas.
  • Invest in anti-theft technology (i.e., alarm system, Club…).
  • Use our Hot Spot map to see if there have been auto thefts where you live or work.
  • Follow the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) “Layered Approach” to protection.
  • Find out what the top stolen vehicles in your region are here.