Police warn of ‘warm-up’ car thefts amid Hamilton cold snap

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Published January 16, 2024 at 10:45 am

As temperatures plunge in the first major cold snap of the year, police are warning residents to prevent “warm-up” car thefts.

Hamilton is in the midst of its first cold weather alert of the year. The city’s medical officer, Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, announces a cold alert anytime temperatures are expected to fall below -15 degrees, or -20 with the wind chill.

Richards announced this alert on Jan. 14 and it will remain in effect until further notice.  “Exposure to cold weather can be harmful to your health. Wind always makes it feel colder, and increases the risk of frostbite and hypothermia. During extreme cold weather conditions, please call, visit, or check on vulnerable family, friends, and neighbours,” the city said.

On Jan 15, Hamilton police shared some advice of their own to prevent cars from going missing. They told residents not to turn their cars on and leave them running to warm up. “With the temperature drop this morning, we know it’s tempting. Please do not leave your vehicle running unattended,” they wrote, “Criminals love warm cars too.”

While today is a little warmer than it has been lately, it’s still going to peak at a brisk minus eight degrees during the day. However with the wind it will feel closer to -18. It’ll drop to about -17 tonight. They city’s cold weather alerts are put in place anytime temps fall below -15, or -20 with wind chill. Despite the cold, police “recommend dressing warm and waiting with your vehicle while it warms up.”

The warning comes as car thefts in the city reach record numbers. “Auto theft in the City of Hamilton has shown a consistent upward trend each year since 2020, notably witnessing a rise in high-end vehicle thefts alongside a decline in recovery rates,” police noted after Ontario announced a province-wide $18 million initiative to curb the rise.

 

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