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Owner Reunited With Stolen Running Car

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DES MOINES, Iowa-- When it's this cold, it's tempting to leave your car running in the driveway or the parking lot. Police say doing that makes you an easy target for a crime as one Des Moines man found out over the weekend.

“Anytime you're going to start your car and get it warmed up, you run that risk of it getting stolen,” said Des Moines Police Sgt. Jason Halifax.

The department took 903 stolen car reports last year. Police say they tend to see an increase in calls as soon as it starts to get cold.

“Usually I'm pretty good at making sure it's locked and not leaving anything people would want inside of it,” said Ben Lee.

Sunday afternoon was the exception. He says his car was still cold so he was trying to let it heat up when he ran inside Walgreens on Southeast 14th. Lee left his Jeep running and unlocked for about three minutes.

“As soon as I walked out, I was like, umm maybe I didn't park over here and I kind of looked around for a minute and I just couldn't believe it,” said Lee.

The thieves got away with his Jeep, some tools, clothes and the keys to his house.

Police said finding stolen cars isn't necessarily easy. “More often than not, if we don't see it driving around within the first couple of hours, we tend to find them abandoned somewhere,” said Halifax.

Lee's Jeep was found by officials on Second and Corning Tuesday. Lee told Channel 13 it was almost out of gas but in otherwise good condition.

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