GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- On a cold morning, it is tempting to start the car and let it warm up while you finishing getting ready inside, but according to local police, it's an open invitation to car thieves.
It's known as 'puffing' and it's illegal in Colorado.
"This is a crime that happens here,” said Grand Junction Police Department spokesperson Heidi Davidson.
"I scrape it, I start it and I sit in it until it warms up a minute then I go,” said Grand Junction resident, LoAnne Ryman.
"I wasn't aware that it was actually illegal,” said resident Allan Richardson.
"Make sure that you are protecting yourself and your car from becoming a target,” said Davidson. "It takes less than 30 seconds for a thief to spot your car, hop in it and drive away if you haven't put in place safety precautions to prevent that theft,” said Davidson.
Nine cases have been reported to Grand Junction police so far this winter, and eight to the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office.
In one case, police said a man started his car then ran back to his house.
"He wasn't gone more than two or three minutes at the most... when he got back downstairs it was gone,” said Davidson.
The only legal way to warm your car unattended in Colorado is if you have a remote starter and are a safe distance away, that way the vehicle can't be taken. Otherwise, you may be held liable if you don't have comprehensive insurance.
"If the vehicle is stolen, then whoever is driving is not permitted to do so. So they will be liable for any damages they cause to your vehicle, to someone else's vehicle or to a building...whatever they may do,” said Adam Bird with the Paul Bird Insurance Agency, Inc.