A guide to cold weather vehicle warming with MUPD Assistant Chief Kranz

Although it’s tempting to leave your car unattended to warm up during a cold Wisconsin day, members of the Marquette community should be aware of the risks of theft or citation.

“While we all like getting into a toasty warm car this time of year, so do car thieves,” says Jeffrey Kranz, assistant chief of the Marquette University Police Department. “Thieves are often out looking for just that behavior to give them an opportunity to drive off in your vehicle.” 

Many cities additionally have regulations on the practice of idling, aiming to address environmental concerns and promote public safety. Milwaukee Traffic code 101-30 states the following: 

101-30. Leaving of Ignition Keys in a Parked Auto. 

  1. LOCK REQUIRED. Every passenger motor vehicle except a common carrier of passengers is required to be equipped with a lock suitable to lock either the starting lever, throttle, steering apparatus, gear shift lever, brake system or ignition system.
  1. ON PUBLIC STREET. No person may permit a motor vehicle in his custody to stand or remain unattended on any street, alley or in any other public place, except an attended parking area, unless either the starting lever, throttle, steering apparatus, gear shift, brake system or ignition of said vehicle is locked and the key for such lock is removed from the vehicle. This subsection shall not apply to motor trucks when the engine must be kept running while the truck is standing or parked in order to provide power for auxiliary devices, appliances, accessories or machinery that are or is related to nondriving occupational operations, provided that the operator of the motor truck is in the near vicinity of the truck engaged in assigned or related duties while the engine is running, and further provided that the vehicle must be equipped with positive neutral position brake locks plus a safety override, or similar appropriate safety features.

Though the winter weather can be uncomfortable, responsible vehicle ownership demands an awareness of the safety or legal implications associated with warming up your vehicle. To not fall victim to theft or fines, familiarize yourself with your local regulations. To find out more about the City of Milwaukee’s traffic codes, click here.  

“Nobody likes the winter chill in the morning, but the loss of your vehicle to a car thief or the headache of dealing with a citation will have a much greater impact than the temporary discomfort from the cold,” says Assistant Chief Kranz.