By on December 12, 2017

car crime theft

Florida lawmakers are pushing a new bill that would make it illegal to have your car stolen if you haven’t bothered to take the keys out of the ignition. While accidentally prepping a car for prospective thieves is easily one of the dumbest things you can do, making it illegal to leave it running while you pop in to buy a pack of gum sets us up for a nice slippery slope argument.

Last week, State Representative Wengay Newton and Senator Perry Thurston introduced matching proposals (House Bill 927 and Senate Bill 1112) that would make leaving your car unattended without stopping the engine, locking the ignition, and removing the key a second-degree misdemeanor. Under the Florida statute, the crime would be punishable with a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail.

“This is ground zero. There’s no more cars stolen anywhere in the state, then they are right here in St. Petersburg,” Newton told WFTS in an interview. “Shut your engine off, lock your engine, and take your keys. There’s a good chance when you get back out there, your car might be there.”

Local officials have been less enthusiastic about the plan, despite the high rate of theft in the area. “I think we need to come up with another solution, whether it be a fine or even call the insurance company. If your car is $20,000 and you leave the keys in it, maybe the insurance company should only pay you $10,000 so you are both held responsible,” said St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway.

While I’m not sure if losing out on several thousand dollars’ worth of insurance money is really better than a $500 fine, it’s understandable that Holloway wants to avoid turning victimized citizens into criminals. He elaborated further in the Tampa Bay Times, stating, “They’re already a victim, and we’re going to charge you now? People won’t report it, or they’ll lie to us.”

However, Newton remains convinced that this new bill is the perfect solution to a problem he claims has run amok. “Juveniles are crashing into people, killing themselves,” said Newton. “I look back at the beginning and say, but for the keys being left in the vehicle and this crime of opportunity prevailing itself, we wouldn’t have stolen cars and these crashes.”

“What I’m trying to do is close this floodgate of a crime of opportunity that is permitting these juveniles to get access to cars,” Newton concluded.

Leaving your car running while unattended will already warrant you a ticket in most locations. But police typically ignore issuing those citations when someone’s car is already stolen, possibly because the punishment pales in comparison to the embarrassment of having your car stolen for such a dumb reason.

Pinellas County arrested juveniles 499 times for stealing cars in 2015, which was more than anywhere else in Florida and exceptionally high compared to other parts of the country. It’s become a serious issue for locals, especially since the Tampa Bay Times ran numerous stories suggesting most cars stolen by teens were left unlocked by their owners with the keys inside.

Despite the public outcry for a fix, law enforcement doesn’t appear to be supportive of the proposals. Chief Holloway has already expressed his dissatisfaction with the bill — a sentiment echoed by other agencies in the region. Clearwater Police Chief Daniel Slaughter said that, while he admired Newton’s intentions, he wouldn’t back the legislation. “I don’t think it would be appropriate to charge a victim for a crime,” Slaughter explained. “When we’re trying to build trust in the community, it wouldn’t really breed a culture of trust between victims and law enforcement.”

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri also has no intention of supporting Newton. “Where do we stop? If you leave your front door unlocked and someone breaks into your house, are you now going to be guilty of a crime?” he said. “It’s most definitely not a priority.”

Either way, we cannot stress enough how good of an idea it is to remove your keys from the vehicle any time you decide to leave it unattended. Entrust car theft to the professionals and help stop exceptionally stupid teens from committing crimes of opportunity by doing your part.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

62 Comments on “This New Florida Bill Would Make It Illegal to Have Your Car Stolen...”


  • avatar
    Heino

    But what about Florida Man? Legislating common sense will cut down on all the entertainment that is the Sunshine State (I have family there).

    • 0 avatar
      69firebird

      That is super cute.Maybe where you live should get an an open records law like we have had since 1909 and make all this info a phone call away like we have and we will see how it goes in your locale.First you’d have to be #3 in population in the country.Then you would have to admit how much you actually suck.Do us a favor.Stop moving down here and screwing up the vibe and for god’s sake learn how to drive.

      • 0 avatar
        Matt Foley

        Please, smugtards, keep bashing Florida! Keep up the narrative that the whole state is nothing but meth-heads, opioid abusers, octogenarians in low-mileage Buick Park Avenues, and George Zimmermans.

        If the smugtards ever discover just how great most of Florida is, they’ll move down in droves and turn the whole place into Marin County. God help us.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    There is a legal concept called an “attractive nuisance” and it’s most commonly applied as laws requiring homeowners with pools to put up a fence around them so neighborhood children from impromptu deciding to play in them without supervision and drowning. Yes, technically the kids are trespassing, but we don’t expect small children to understand that concept. Violations of attractive nuisance rules are mostly worked out by code enforcement, not criminal law. (And the owner of an attractive nuisance is going to have a tougher time defending against a lawsuit for an injured child.)

    But applying the same doctrine to teenagers? I don’t think it works quite as well there. Now you are just making the property owner a criminal because they failed to stop the criminal behavior of others who most certainly knew better.

  • avatar
    mmreeses

    the double negatives made my head hurt or it could be caffeine withdrawal

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    The Tampa Bay Times articles have really prompted a sense of urgency to “do something” but I don’t see this being a big success. People in Tampa Bay love to park in their driveways, usually because their garages have become storage rooms (we don’t have basements, you see). When I lived there I was the only guy on my block using a 3-car garage for the storage of 3 cars.

    Often the keys are in the car in plain sight, but who leaves keys in the ignition? 10 years from now there will be few cars that even have a keyed ignition to leave a key in.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    It does seem that adding to someone’s civil liability makes more sense than adding a criminal liability in these cases. Having a 10% reduction in the insurance payout on damages to the car when it can be shown that the car was left vulnerable to theft seems like it would have an effect on people. Or make people liable for damages caused by their stolen vehicle. I’m sure that the insurance industry would get on board.

  • avatar
    MrGrieves

    It’s not uncommon around here for people to leave their cars running while parked. Usually happens during the hottest days of the summer so they can keep the A/C cranked. But nobody really seems to give a hoot anyway because their car is probably uninsured…

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      We have the opposite. It is common for vehicles to be left running in the winter. I will do that in my driveway with the vehicle doors locked but not out shopping.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      Here in Chicagoland it happens for both heating and cooling, especially where people are leaving children in the car “for just a second”. There’s been a rash of thefts due to this, including idiots that leave the car running while gassing up the car. Several of the cases involved someone still in the car:

      http://www.dailyherald.com/news/20171115/chicago-police-arrest-suspect-in-wheeling-carjacking-kidnapping

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        It happens here in Texas, too, with people running into a convenience store to get something, leaving the car running, and maybe even a kid in a car seat.

        I could see maybe ticketing folks for this, but 60 days in jail? Uh, no.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      I need to know the name of the insurance company that these people use, so I can use a different one.

      Insurance is about risk. People who set their cars up to be stolen, increase risk, hence increase insurance rates. I don’t wanna pay for idiots (more than I already do).

  • avatar
    Caboose

    If passed, I suspect this bill would disproportionally affect poorer folks. Those more well-off at least *have* a garage; they could, re: Ramrod’s comment, clean out their garages and put their cars in them. Those less well-off frequently don’t have garages or live in apartment complexes with outdoor-only parking. They also tend to live in those neighborhoods more prone to car boost.

    On the other hand, does no one else bat an eye at the fact that several chiefs of police in Florida are publicly stating that they will refuse to enforce a law they don’t like? Isn’t that kind of a problem: letting law enforcement agencies effectively have tacit veto over elected legislators?

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      Or, this law may help poorer folks more, as a few of them may learn the lesson in the form of tickets, instead of losing the cars to thieves.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      What the hell does having a garage have to do with leaving your keys in the car or the car running while unattended?

      “Yes, officer, I left my old Sentra running in the 7-11 parking lot while I went in for lotto tickets because I’m poor, you see. I didn’t have a choice, as I said, I’m quite poor, AND I don’t have a garage. Why is that important? I’m not sure, but if only could afford a 2017 Sentra, then I’d be smart (rich) enough to shut it off and lock it when I walk away from it.”

      Enough of the “this law will disproportionately affect the poor, and *I* care” garbage. Think, McFly, think. I’m not rich, I drive a Taurus that was built in during the first Clinton administration, and no, I don’t have a garage to park it in. Do I leave it running while unattended in a parking lot? No, never.

    • 0 avatar
      IBx1

      Because leaving a car running with the keys in it INSIDE your garage is a good idea for wealthy smart people?

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      Umm…. aren’t poor people supposed to be trying to conserve money? One way to do this is to conserve gasoline by NOT idling your car. Seems to me that this law would have disproportionate impact on *RICH* people. Anyone willing to throw away that much gas money is clearly rich, not poor.

      Do rich people really leave their car in their garage with the garage door closed? That doesn’t sound very smart, especially a cold-start car will not have the O2 sensors or catalytic converters working. You could always open the garage door, but then someone might take your car out for a ride, so having a garage isn’t protecting you from theft.

      Here’s a hint for summer:
      When I grew up our cars didn’t have air conditioners at all. Instead we put a bed sheet on the bench seats so we wouldn’t burn our skin on the vinyl. We also rolled down the windows when not going too fast. “Poor” people these days are worried about making the A/C more effective? I must have been so poor growing up that it’s a miracle I survived.

      As for winter:
      Yes, sometimes dad would idle the car while using an ice scraper on the windshield. But that is not an unattended-car situation. As far as being cold in the car, we wore gloves, hats, and winter coats. Problem solved. You’ll probably need that cold-weather clothing before getting in the car and probably need it after getting out of the car. Might as well take it with you in the car and use it.

    • 0 avatar
      Skenk

      Like sanctuary cities. Yeah; that’s frustrating.

      These cars with their motors running, they’re just asking for it.

      Haven’t we learned that victim blaming and shaming is wrong?

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    Why is this news?

    Hundreds if not thousands of municipalities have laws similar to this.

    From the city I live in:

    “6-1-2: UNATTENDED VEHICLES

    No person shall leave a motor vehicle, except a commercial motor vehicle in a business or industrial district, unattended on any street, alley, used car lot or unattended parking lot in the city without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition, removing the key and taking it with him/her; provided, that any violation of these provisions shall not mitigate the offense of stealing such motor vehicle nor shall such violation be used to effect a recovery in any civil action for the theft of such motor vehicle or the insurance thereon or have any other bearing on any civil action. (1971 Code § 14-3; amd. 2000 Code; Ord. 923, 12-18-2013)”

    “6-1-5: VIOLATIONS

    A. Unless otherwise declared by Minnesota statutes chapters 65B, 168, 169 and 171 with respect to particular offenses, it is a petty misdemeanor for any person to do any act forbidden or fail to perform any act required by sections 6-1-1, 6-1-2, and 6-1-4 of this chapter and sections 6-2-1 and 6-2-3 of this title; provided, that any violation of section 6-2-2 of this title and any violation which is committed in a manner or under circumstances so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property is a misdemeanor offense.”

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      This is also pretty much the rule here in Ohio. Using a remote start which starts and warms the car after locking the doors can still, on a slow revenue day, get the owner a citation regardless of no key in the car and automatic shut-off of the vehicle if someone attempts to drive it away.

      • 0 avatar
        EBFlex

        Our officers have never enforced it. Our non-sworn Community Service Officers don’t enforce it.

        The only time it would be enforced is if a child somehow started driving the vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Wait, why is this a Ford problem?

      • 0 avatar
        EBFlex

        Huh?

        Why is Ford always at fault for things with you? Why do you hate ford so much? In fact, you hate ford so much that you bring them up in an article about leaving your vehicle running while unattended. Strange behavior dude.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    This is a sticky area.

    On one hand, when you leave your car unlocked with the keys in the ignition, you aren’t practicing due diligence in preventing the theft..because you could just take the keys with you.

    On the other hand, like you said, it’s a slippery slope. I do think that the insurance company should get to decrease or possibly deny your comprehensive claim if you do something that stupid, but I don’t think it should be a misdemeanor.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I was under the impression that most insurance companies will not cover theft of a vehicle if it was left unattended with the keys in it (and if running of course).

      Seems to me that doing such would be a far easier way to commit insurance fraud than burning the car or intentionally crashing it. Just leave it running in a crummy part of town, go home and wait for the check to come in the mail.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      No, they will pay for it. If you think about it. Auto insurance main purpose is paying insurance claim for stupidity, either yours or somebody else’s.

  • avatar
    dawooj

    Legislating common sense doesn’t seem wise. Like many pointed out, it’ll probably have more unintended consequences than what it’s trying to fix. Also, who is this law trying to help out really? The potential victims or the insurance companies’ profits?

    “Common sense is not so common.” -Voltaire

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I guess its supposed to cut down on people giving teenagers and/or common criminals the opportunity to steal cars so easily, just by walking up to them, getting in and driving away. Having keys in the car, or better yet, having it already running, makes it very tempting compared to a car that’s secured. Not that the secured car is impossible to steal, just not so easy and obvious.

      I don’t agree that it will solve the problem, but that’s the idea behind it.

    • 0 avatar
      Car Ramrod

      The law is trying to stop kids from stealing cars, joyriding on surface streets, and killing themselves or others all while posting live videos from behind the wheel. The Tampa Bay area is (unsurprisingly) leading the nation in this kind of stupidity.

      I think the law, which of course won’t make a difference, is trying to help bystanders that get occasionally whacked by these speeding vehicles. They’ll say its about protecting the under aged kids stealing the cars, but the legislature doesn’t care about them and as a member of a family in law enforcement frankly neither do I.

    • 0 avatar
      Rob Cupples

      “Also, who is this law trying to help out really?”

      There is a similar law in Seattle which carries a $200 fine. The police were getting around 200 reports a year from people who had left their keys in the car. It’s cheaper than hiring more people to deal with the reports I guess.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Perhaps they’ll make the victim share a cell with the perp, but the perp will get out first. Wouldn’t that be ironic?

    • 0 avatar
      Caboose

      I think it would be ironic if we had to hurt each other to help each other.
      Or if everyone was required by law to carry a gun, but our guns shot out a healing salve that cured all wounds.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    This is silly since it’s now nearly impossible to steal cars of legit value by traditional methods, slide-hammer, master keys, cracking the column and whatnot. Car theives are always on the hunt for the right opportunity, just jump in, stab and steer. There’s plenty of opportunities with a little planning and knowing where to be at the right time.

    Like no way am I gonna shut my truck off and pull out the keys to shut my gate behind me, some times 50 ft back if I’m pulling my trailer, as I leave every morning, yes always at the same time and it’s still dark out.

    They should also make it a crime to not have a 3-pedal manual trans, while they’re at it.

    But how hard is it to convict a car thief of even “receiving stolen property” when all they have say is they stupidly bought the car from some dude named Jimbob with no “pink” at a local Kum & Go?

    If they start making it a crime to be stupid, where does it all stop?

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      The article notes the bill says “leaving your car unattended,” so I’m guessing your specific case might not count. Also, if you are on private property I’m not sure your specific case would count, either.

      If taken to mean what you imply above, then valet parking people would be violating this law all the time, too. So I’m guessing that is why “unattended” is a needed element of the “crime.”

      I think TTAC’s article title has the right idea… make it illegal to have your car stolen. Then you can leave your keys in the car all the time out in public and you are only in trouble if your car is, in fact, stolen when you left the car unattended with the keys in the ignition.

  • avatar
    sgtjmack

    How about police do better jobs at community oitreach, and parents do better jobs at raiding their children and stop passing the blame to innocent people.

    If you enter a home or business and the doors are open, it is still considered either trespassing, or even breaking and entering/unlawful entry. So how is a house any different than a vehicle since both are considered private property?

    But go ahead and vote for this assanine law and see how fast you aren’t re-elected.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      This is already law in hundreds if not thousands of jurisdictions across the country. Relax.

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      >>> But go ahead and vote for this assanine law and see how fast you aren’t re-elected. <<<

      Politicians create all sorts of asinine laws and, sadly, they often get reelected _because_ of the asinine laws they pass.

      Maybe we should instead charge the parents with manslaughter if their kid runs someone over? That might be a good idea, but it seems rather drastic. This law, however, looks like a more pragmatic approach: the law covers high number of people but the penalties are modest compared with manslaughter penalties.

      I think a better argument against this law is that it should be left to the states. In fact, it appears that many states do have similar laws already on the books.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    fascism 101 eh?

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    My 2010 F-150 has some buttons below the driver’s door handle. Problem solved – eight years ago. By Ford, weirdly.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Problem solved by Ford *40* years ago, though to be fair it was initially limited to Lincolns. Pickups were some of the last vehicles they added it to. There are still a few Ford’s where it isn’t available though.

  • avatar
    SirRaoulDuke

    I’m going to take a wild guess that a bill introduced by two black Democrats will not pass in the Florida Legislature.

  • avatar
    potemcam

    Could we charge victims of sexual assault for wearing provocative clothing? After all, they created the temptation, so they’re partly to blame, right?

    The law is offensive.

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    What a ludicrously dumb proposal. Why not come down harder on the car thieves to begin with?

    If such a law passes, what’s to stop the government from criminalizing a victim of something like purse snatching because their purse wasn’t closely clutched to their body? What’s to stop them from punishing you when an identity thief takes your mail before you get home from work, because you don’t have a drop slot?

    For that matter, what about a rape victim? Going to send her to jail because she was jogging all by herself by on a deserted walk path at sunset?

    I agree that we all need to take reasonable precautions but to criminalize a victim for their carelessness or lack of hypervigilance is something out of a communistic playbook. The only proper way to thwart crime is to come down really hard on the criminal.

  • avatar

    Wengay Newton has a solid track record of deflecting blame for the failings and problems of his ‘community’ onto the laps of others…

  • avatar
    Ermel

    I can’t get my head around the concept of leaving one’s car running while going into a shop “for just one second”. No-one in Germany does this, and I’m quite sure their insurance would not cover for a stolen car if they did.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      This bill already has the stink of insurance industry romancing. But car owners/users aren’t suddenly getting careless but car theives have little choice but to stalk victims, figuring where/when to find cars idling unattended, or keys left in the ignition, since cars are increasingly harder to steal, if not impossible.

      The insurance industry has to be frustrated with this scenario, and I’m possessive insurance fraud plays a huge role. I see it all the darn time, cars and trucks, diesels especially, “recovered stolen”, with a bad engine. Or were owners severely “upside down” with gap insurance?

      What, no ignition damage?? But don’t car thieves have to first admit how “easily” they walked up and took possession? And when are car thieves actually caught redhanded and prosecuted for GTA? Do cops even “investigate” stolen cars?

  • avatar
    Czilla9000

    “This New Florida Bill Would Make It Illegal to Have Your Car Stolen” – My first thought was “it already is – everywhere!”

  • avatar
    Shortest Circuit

    I sense parallels with the gun control legislation… stop making more rules, enforce the existing ones. Here’s a hint, maybe don’t let judges talk GTAs down to a misdemeanor charge? Set up a proper nationwide system to track stolen cars?
    Buddy had a prototype software that scanned eBay and craigslist for parts for cars reported to be stolen, presented it to a few interested POs, but in the end they said like “ah, it’s too much paperwork, we could use our detectives so much better than this”
    (We still don’t know what they meant by this.)

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    Next on the docket: Leaving your house door unlocked accidentally will be a crime, not having a security system will be a crime, and women wearing anything shorter than knee length will be a crime. I mean, that is what we are trying to do here, righit?

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Who seriously leaves their keys in their car? They deserve to have it stolen so they learn how to be responsible on a basic level. It’s only the second biggest expense you have in life besides housing.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I’ve done this in the driveway (defrosting or deicing the windows on a really cold day), but I use one of those two-part keychains that can be pulled apart, and I have a second key so I can lock the doors.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Don’t want your car stolen by teenagers – buy a manual transmission. Problem solved. Leave it running in front of the local high school for months.

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    This is probably just another revenue enhancer.
    However there is the potential problem of running vehicles moving off by themselves. There was the slip/jump from Park to Reverse of some 70s models. Mostly Ford and Chrysler IIRC.
    Now there are the problems with the electronic shifters slipping/jumping out of Park.
    But seriously, are they going to ticket someone if their keyless ignition car is stolen by some hacker with a laptop because they did not chain it to a large eye-bolt sunk in their driveway?


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • EBFlex: Actually this is very good news. The sooner Tesla becomes water under the bridge the better.
  • IHateCars: Nice job….too bad a GS-F wasn’t doable, those things are magic. Now go and get some...
  • cimarron typeR: What no Tru Coat? I’ve always wondered how well Crown and other aftermarket...
  • EBFlex: Panasonic wants out. They realize that Tesla is a terrible company run by a guy who is very unstable and a...
  • Nick_515: Man, five full hours of sleep would be so good right now! I sometimes go three weeks with that much, tops....

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States