EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Police are sounding the alarm about the dangers of leaving your car running while unattended this winter. We spoke to one family who learned the lesson the hard way.

“All the neighbors around here come out and start up their cars,” said Tom Kubelis.

In the middle of winter, the last thing many of us want to do is get in a cold car before heading off to work. An easy option to avoid this is to start your car ahead of time so it can warm up.

“I keep an eye on mine. She has an automatic car starter on hers so it’s locked all the time until she gets in,” stated Kubelis.

But it’s an option that also presents risks.

“The issue from a law enforcement standpoint is there are people who go around in the morning specifically looking for unlocked vehicles to steal items from them and if they’re running with the keys in it, they may remove your vehicle. That may take it,” explained Trooper Anthony Petroski, of the Pennsylvania State Police.

That’s exactly what happened to one family in Lackawanna County.

“My sister had her car stolen the one time. One of the kids forgot something at school and she stopped at the house to run in and grab something and someone stole their car,” explained Kubelis.

Pennsylvania State Police say getting the things in your vehicle or the vehicle itself stolen in the winter can be prevented.

“How do we do that? Well, you can’t really go out to your car if it’s parked in the street or on your driveway, put the key in, start it up and go back in your house and get ready for work. The best way to do it is to use a remote starter,” stated Petroski.

“This way if somebody enters your vehicle, they can’t start it up and drive away without the key inside the vehicle. If you don’t have one of those, try using another set of keys so you have one key in the ignition and one key with you in the house and your vehicle is locked,” explained Petroski.

Not only is this good advice, but it’s also the law.

A section of the Pennsylvania code requires people to make sure their cars are parked and locked with the windows up and key out of the ignition whenever they are away from the vehicle.

To learn more about Pennsylvania’s unattended motor vehicle law, you can find more information on the PA General Assembly’s website.