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Wisconsin cold weather is creating opportunities for car theft

Now that the holiday season is over, Waukesha residents are paying more attention to the fact that it's cold outside and probably will be for the next several months. As such, many Wisconsinites are letting their cars run unattended in the morning in order to let them warm up before their morning commute.

But our usual Midwest methods for coping with the weather might not be the best way to keep our property safe. Police in Milwaukee say that incidences of car theft have risen significantly over the last several weeks.

The Milwaukee Police Department says that there were 168 vehicle thefts reported between Nov. 22 and Dec. 12 of last year. That number jumped to 266 reported thefts between Dec. 11 and Jan. 3.

What accounts for this rash of vehicle thefts? The alleged culprits may surprise you.

A police officer in District 7 said: "What we see probably more than anything, generally around this time of year, is around high schools." She noted that car thefts by students are often just a crime of convenience. She explained: "They'll find somebody that's got their car running left unattended. It's just a quick, easy way to get to school. They'll leave the car within a block or two of school."

That's why most of the thefts lately have occurred in the morning between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. or during mid-afternoon hours. Later in the day, drivers may leave their cars running in a parking lot when they stop to pick up coffee or dinner to take home.

Teenagers are notorious for impulsive actions, and few likely realize the serious consequences that accompany a criminal charge like car theft. Regardless of whether the car was stolen for transportation to school or just a joy ride, this impulsive act could seriously jeopardize a young person's future prospects and perhaps even their freedom.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, " Car thefts spike as cold students jump in," Gitte Laasby, Jan. 4, 2012

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