Over the past few months we as New Englanders have experienced some
intense cold weather. Living in a
area of the country where private transportation is a vital part of our daily
lives, we may have been guilty of leaving our personal vehicles running to
warm up while we stay warm in our homes or our places of business. This creates a great risk of losing what most of us hold as
one of our most expensive investments.
There have been close to thirty (30) vehicles stolen since November
2003 in the City of Lynn by thieves who grabbed the opportunity to jump in an
unoccupied, running motor vehicle. An
opportunistic thief does not plan or “case” a vehicle.
They wait for the owner, you, to leave your vehicle running or run into
a store to make a quick purchase. The
thief then jumps in your vehicle and drives off.
Several Lynn juveniles
have been suspected of stealing vehicles in this manner and are being watched
by members of the Gang Unit. They
hang out near the various convenience stores and wait until someone leaves a
vehicle running. It only takes
The Lynn Police
Criminal Investigations Division has been working in conjunction with several
insurance companies recently to target insurance fraud and how to address this
cold weather theft problem. A
supervisor for MetLife Auto & Home Insurance has indicated and stressed
that an owner of a vehicle who is a victim of these opportunistic thieves may
not be covered by their insurance in cases where the thief uses the stolen
vehicle in the commission of another crime, ie.. armed robbery, or is involved
in an accident with your stolen vehicle causing personal injury or even
property damage. The owner is
then liable for those damages.
companies will not honor a claim if the owner allowed the thief to steal a
vehicle by leaving it running with the keys in it.
It is the responsibility of the owners to protect their property.
Any injuries or property damage caused by a car thief involved in an
accident while using a stolen vehicle is the responsibility of the vehicle
owner. The owner could even be
held civilly liable for injuries
to the thief who stole the vehicle.
So before you run that
quick errand to the convenience store, or don’t want to sit in a cold
vehicle while it is warming up, think hard about the financial consequences
that you may face if your car is stolen and ends up in an accident or
as a means to commit a crime.
There is also a motor
vehicle violation that the owner or person leaving a vehicle running and
unattended can be cited for. Mass.
General Laws Chap. 90 Sec. 13 “Safety Precautions for Proper Operation and
Parking of Vehicles and Buses” reads: “…no person having control or
charge of a motor vehicle shall allow such vehicle to stand in any way and
remain unattended without stopping the engine of said vehicle and removing the
key from the locking device and from the vehicle..” The fine for a first offence is $35.00. The fines increase for subsequent offenses.
Members of the Lynn
Police have been requested to be vigilant in enforcing this statute and using
their discretion by either verbally warning anyone leaving a vehicle running
and unattended or by issuing a citation to the offender.
Enforcement of this
violation will help reduce the amount of vehicles stolen in Lynn and also to
help protect the general public from unlicensed youthful drivers, or persons
not caring about the vehicle their operating, because it does not belong to
answers to this problem and here are some preventive tips.
If you can afford an auto starter, it allows you to start your vehicle
with a remote control and cannot be driven unless the key is inserted in the
ignition. If you do not have a
garage, put a locking device on your steering wheel
( The Club) while your vehicle is warming up. Above all, use common
sense when pulling into the parking lot of a place of business.
Turn your car off and take the keys with you.
Several thieves have been identified and arrested this winter who wait
for you to leave your car running and unattended.
Don’t become a statistic and
open yourself to civil liability.