MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee police are warning people not to start their cars on cold mornings and then leave them unattended. They say car thieves are on the prowl hoping you'll do just that.
Car thefts spikes in Milwaukee's police district #7 in the last week or two. Officials say they've seen nearly a 50% jump, averaging three to four stolen cars each day.
One recent theft happened outside of Papa John's Pizza at Capitol and Appleton. Police say the victim left their car running to keep it warm while they ran in to pick up a pizza. In just a few moments, the car was gone.
According to police, more of the car thefts happen in the morning as people are getting ready for work and kids are heading to school. It's that cold walk police believe that leads many of the teenage thieves to take running cars.
Officials say while most cars are recovered, it usually takes several days, and sometimes weeks to find them. Most are simply called in by someone just looking to get an out of place car moved.
Even if the thieves don't get you, police might. It's actually illegal in Milwaukee to leave a car running unattended with the keys inside. The price of a ticket is $22.