For many people it's a winter-time ritual. The early morning habit of starting up your car, then heading back inside while it warms up. A practice now being preyed upon by thieves.
"We're almost inviting them to take our cars," said investigator Ray Salas. Salas is a member of the South Plains Auto Theft Task Force, and things have been busy during the month of January.
"We're going out there, and we're trying to heat up our cars in the morning, we're leaving them running, leaving them unattended. So far this month, just in the month of January, we have lost 11 cars," says Salas.
Authorities are pursuing leads, but have yet to make any arrests. Police say the perpetrators are simply cruising the streets, seeing what they can find. The victims we spoke with were either to embarrassed to appear on camera or afraid of being struck again. All share a sense of frustration. Many almost catching the thieves in the act. In one police report a man, "walked out the front door, just in time to see his motor vehicle turn west on the south loop."
"The main thing that victims are saying is they never thought, they never felt this would happen to them," said Salas.
To keep it from happening to you, authorities say use common sense. Have an extra set of keys so that you can lock your door while heating up the car.
Otherwise, says Salas, just tough it out and stay in the car. "A lot of times it'd be easier if you'd have to suffer those couple of minutes that it's going to take to get that car wamred up, instead of losing the entire vehicle," he said.