By Mekialaya White

DENVER (CBS4) – On Colorado mornings like Friday when temperatures dip into the single digits, it’s tempting to leave your car running to warm it up. However, Denver police say it’s not worth the potential car theft.

“We have seen a lot of puffers, cars left unattended,” Division Chief Ron Thomas told CBS4’s Mekialaya White.

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Thomas says there’s been a noteworthy increase in these crimes in recent months, which could be attributed to the pandemic.

“We see a lot of property crimes, a lot of vehicle related property crimes, vehicle thefts, burglaries. I think that is in direct relation to COVID and the economic stressors and social stressors and changes in behavior that are a result of this virus,” said Thomas.

In February 2021 thus far, there have been 35 reported puffers in the Denver area. In January, there were 119 instances, as compared to 56 in January of 2020.

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Thomas says it’s simply a crime of opportunity, an easy target for criminals.

“I understand the need to warm up your car and not be sitting out in the cold, but it’s just easy temptation to come by while it’s running and unattended and take it. Don’t do it. My advice is bundle up and sit in your car while it’s warming up.”

DPD is making quite an effort as well to reduce this type of crime.

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“Thankfully, that time of the morning when people are warming cars tends to be a time of low volume and urgency, so officers do have the opportunity to patrol their neighborhoods and look for cars that are puffing.”

Mekialaya White