ST PAUL, Minn. — Yeah, it's a total bummer getting into a car that's iced over and cold.

Bigger bummer? Someone stealing your ride. 

St. Paul Police say at least nine vehicles have been stolen in recent days after their owners left them unlocked and running as temps dipped and snow and ice fell. The department posted a warning on its Twitter page, reminding city residents "It's easier to steal a running, unattended car than it is to steal one that has a person in it."

And here's another thing: Leaving your vehicle running, unlocked and unattended is against the law. St. Paul Police spokesman Sgt. Mike Ernster steered us to St. Paul city ordinance 157.07.

Sec. 157.07. - Duty to lock ignition, remove key.

A. Every person when leaving a motor vehicle, except a commercial motor vehicle, unattended on any street, alley, or parking lot in the city shall lock the ignition, remove the key and take it with him or her. Any violation of these provisions shall not...

  1. mitigate the offense of stealing such motor vehicle, nor... 
  2. be used to affect a recovery in any civil action for theft of such motor vehicle, or the insurance thereon, or... 
  3. have any other bearing in any civil action.

B. Any police officer who finds a motor vehicle standing in violation of the foregoing provisions, is authorized and directed to remove the keys and to deliver them to the desk officer at the city's central police station.

If an officer observes a vehicle left unattended and running on a public roadway, the owner/operator of that car or truck could be ticketed, and required to pay a fine. 

In Minneapolis, police don't have exact numbers, but say there's been a sharp uptick in stolen vehicles with the arrival of snow and cold. Spokesman John Elder says people continue to leave vehicles running and unattended despite an ordinance similar to the one in St. Paul. 

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