ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As part of its work to reduce car thefts across the city, the Albuquerque Police Department is reminding drivers they could be in trouble for leaving their cars idling as it is against the law. With cooler weather approaching, some drivers have admitted to warming up their vehicles in the morning – leaving them unattended – but some Albuquerque drivers tell KRQE they don’t think they should be ticketed for it.

“Are they putting the responsibility of the car theft on the car owner? It seems like the thieves are the ones that are responsible. It’s not going to be a successful preventative measure, car theft will occur regardless if that fine is in place or not,” said Albuquerque driver, Frank Bramlitt.

In a tweet on Monday, APD bragged about the recent success they’ve had targeting criminals who have stolen city-owned bait cars. Over the past four years, APD says the number of auto warm-up thefts has dropped from 29 thefts in December of 2018 down to just 12 last December.

The police department points to the state statute that says cars should not be left running unattended. “It’s ridiculous because you’re turning the people that own these vehicles that are leaving them on into criminals because you’re charging them with something rather than taking it out on the criminals that are actually stealing the cars,” said Albuquerque driver Clemente Sanchez. 

APD says their goal is to educate drivers, saying not warming up your vehicle is one of the best ways to avoid auto theft. A spokesperson for the department says while it is not a common citation issued by officers, they will continue to enforce the state statute and hand out tickets. APS says they have recently issued two citations.