COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - With stifling heat outside, you may be tempted to leave your car on to stay cool while running errands, but you might want to rethink that habit if you don't want your car stolen.
"It's just a crime of opportunity," said Sgt. Gerald Williams with the Columbus Police Department's Auto Theft Unit.
Officials from CPD say 50 to 75 car thefts a month is the average for our area, but since most of those crimes are allegedly committed by juveniles, those numbers can climb even higher during the summer when school is out.
The biggest tip officers have is not to leave your doors unlocked, car running or keys anywhere, but on you at all times.
"If you leave your car running and get out of it and go in the store, there could be someone standing nearby," said William.
If you're backing out of your driveway and realize you forgot something in the house, officials say turn your car off and don't leave it running.
You may think it's only a few minutes you'll be inside, but officials say that's all it takes for someone to jump on the opportunity to steal your car.
" A couple seconds, you're neighbors, mostly juveniles, can see the car running, see you get out of the car, and they'll get in the car and they'll take it and do other crimes," said Williams.
If you want to boost safety measures, officers recommend getting an alarm installed, steering wheel club, or an On-Star system to help prevent your car from being an easy target.
Officers also encourage everyone to be sure to lock their doors, and take all valuables with them when leaving.
If not, you could be giving someone even more of a reason to choose your car to steal.