With below-normal temperatures and more snow on the way, it may be tempting to warm up your vehicle before driving anywhere.

And while leaving your vehicle idling unattended, or puffing as it's sometimes called, is now legal in Wyoming -- Gov. Mark Gordon signed a bill decriminalizing the act on Feb. 21, 2023 -- that doesn't mean it's a good idea.

wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2023/HB0239
wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2023/HB0239
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"Leaving your car running unattended is a dangerous invitation to thieves," said Cheyenne Police Department spokeswoman Alex Farkas. "It only takes seconds to steal."

Such was the case on Feb. 5, when a man went inside The Donut Shop on Central to make a purchase and left his car running with the key fob and a gun in the center console.

During the brief time he was inside, a transient got into his car and drove off.

The transient was later arrested after leading police on a high-speed chase and crashing the stolen car into a tree.

Unfortunately, incidents like these have become somewhat commonplace in Cheyenne.

Farkas says the police department saw 122 vehicle thefts in 2022, and there have been 46 vehicle thefts so far in 2023 -- 19 each in January and February, and eight so far this month.

"Remember to keep vehicles locked and remove valuables to reduce theft and protect property," she said.

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In addition to making your vehicle an easy target for thieves, excessive idling can actually damage your engine components, including cylinders, spark plugs, and exhaust systems.

Unlike vehicles made before 1980 which had carburetors that needed to warm up so they wouldn't stall out, today's vehicles have electric fuel injection systems, and most manufacturers recommend driving off gently after about 30 seconds because the engine warms up faster when the car is being driven.

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