Jan. 27 to Feb. 2 is statewide “Puffer Week” according to Coloradans Against Auto Theft, which partners with law enforcement to encourage Coloradans to avoid “puffing,” or leaving their car running while unattended.
In the winter, drivers are more likely to leave their car running while unattended in order to warm them up, but this is when auto theft tends to increase.
“Generally, leaving your car running unattended does increase the potential risk of it being stolen,” said Boulder County sheriff‘s spokeswoman Carrie Haverfield. “We do see incidents in Boulder County when vehicles have been stolen while a car is puffing.”
Coloradans Against Auto Theft advises Coloradans to “warm up with your car: grab a hot cup of coffee, gloves and a blanket. It shouldn‘t take long — most cars don‘t need to idle for more than 1-2 minutes.”
Puffing your car is illegal in Colorado, unless drivers have a remote-start and have kept the keyless start fob far enough away so it cannot be started. During Puffer Week, the fine for leaving your car running while unattended is raised to $60.
“If you don‘t have a remote start system, things to do instead is start it while you‘re out there and take time to brush off the windows, never leaving the car,” Haverfield said. “Don‘t leave the car out there with the keys running.”
In 2018 Puffer Week had law enforcement issue more than 575 warnings and tickets. Officials said that in order to prevent auto theft, drivers should be more aware of their actions. It is important to always lock the car doors, and never leave it running.
In order to raise awareness for illegal puffing, Coloradans Against Auto Theft releases TV and radio spots to warn citizens. It also posts signs across the state warning drivers of the dangers of puffing and has launched a “Puffer Seduction” social media campaign.
Car thieves have been known to cruise through neighborhoods in search of a car puffing. It only takes a thief less than 10 seconds to escape with a car, according to Coloradans Against Auto Theft.
“It‘s important not to leave it unattended because it can be stolen very easily whether you‘re standing there or not,” Longmont police Cmdr. Joel Post said.