As cold weather approaches, Maryland State Police are launching a campaign to warn drivers that an unoccupied vehicle with its engine running is an open invitation to car thieves who are prowling neighborhoods, convenience stores, and gas stations, looking for the easy steal.
Troopers across Maryland will be working to educate drivers that leaving a vehicle running, or with the keys in it, are the quickest ways to have it stolen. Leaving a vehicle unoccupied with the engine running is also illegal. Violators fortunate enough to find their vehicle still there when they return, just might find a state trooper waiting to issue a citation that carries a fine of $70 and one point. Maryland motor vehicle law states that before a person driving a motor vehicle may leave it unattended, he or she must stop the engine, lock the ignition, remove the key, and set the parking brake.
During the next several months, Maryland state troopers at all 22 barracks will be conducting specific initiatives to locate unoccupied vehicles with the engines running. They will focus on commercial areas and communities, depending on their areas of responsibility and the locations of their highest rates of vehicle thefts.
State Police are reminding drivers that the most important steps to vehicle theft prevention are easy – lock your car and take the key. Additional layers of protection can be added, such as using a mechanical anti-theft device, etching the vehicle identification number onto various locations of the automobile, and investing in a vehicle tracking security system.
I’m glad there’s no other major crime in Maryland that the police can now devote their time to this nanny state enforcement. Additionally, keyless entry technology whether via a fob or by a keypad has existed for awhile now. Would people using this to leave their cars idling but locked be fined and have a point against their license? What about the low-tech alternative of having a spare key?
Additionally, the enforcement will be taking place in “communities” and not just commercial areas. Will they be setting foot on private property in people’s driveways and garages to enforce this?
Not sure why people being stupid enough to have their cars stolen is a reason for the state to also criminalize that behavior and make the victimization even worse.
Quinton is a native South Carolinian who has lived in Baltimore for 8 years. He is a recent convert to the Catholic Church and is active in the Knights of Columbus.
Quinton is a veteran who served as an intelligence analyst in the Army National Guard. He is also an Eagle Scout.