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Puffer Week: Cops crack down on cars left running

Leaving your car running while unattended can cost you $60 and has other unintended consequences, police say.

AURORA, Colo. — It's Puffer Week, and that means law enforcement agencies from across the state are taking action to increase awareness about the risks and dangers of the practice.

If you're unfamiliar with the term, puffing is when drivers leave their car running while unattended. Car thefts spike during cold weather, according to a release from the Aurora Police Department. Thieves look for the so-called puffer cars because they’re easy targets, the agency said.

Puffer Week began Jan. 27 and runs through Feb.2. During that time, officers are reminding citizens that puffing is illegal, except for vehicles with a remote start. Even in those cases, drivers must keep keyless start fob away from the car so that the vehicle can’t be moved.

This week officers are issuing warnings and/or citations to drivers. The first offense results in a $60 fine.

Car theft is a growing problem, according to police, and contributes to the state's crime rate. Stolen cars are frequently used in other crimes, such as armed robbery, identity theft, home invasions and drug offenses, Aurora police said in a news release.

During 2017, within the city of Aurora, 2,096 vehicles were stolen, the agency said. About 10 percent, or 217 of those vehicles, were puffers. 

Statewide Statistics:

  • Auto theft continues to climb across Colorado – up 21.5 percent from 2015 to 2016, and another 8 percent increase from 2016 to 2017. (source: The Auto Theft Intelligence Coordination Center or ATICC)
  • 97 percent of car thieves charged with auto theft are also charged with additional crimes.
  • 40 percent to 50 percent of vehicle theft is due to driver error. (source: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration  or NHTSA)
  • During Puffer Week in 2018, law enforcement issued over 575 warnings and tickets 

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