Lexington County, SC (WLTX) -- No one likes getting inside a freezing cold vehicle, so you may run out to start your car a few minutes before you head to school or work. But is that legal in the state of South Carolina?
According to the state's Code of Law, it's not legal.
Captain Adam Myrick with the Lexington County Sheriff's Department said leaving your car unattended puts you more at risk for your vehicle being stolen.
"It takes them a matter of seconds to do it, especially in this type of weather. They can see the steam coming out of the tailpipe. They can tell that a car is running if the windshield is defrosting, they can spot that very quickly," said Myrick.
Myrick said there were more than 680 cars stolen in Lexington County last year, and about 40 percent of those happened because of access to the keys.
"While you're inside, getting the kids ready and making those last-minute school preparations or getting ready for that project at work, those bad guys could be scoping out your car and hopping in and leaving in a matter of seconds, and you'll never see it again," he said.
Major Stephany Snowden with the Richland County Sheriff's Department said there were 80 vehicles stolen in a 3-month span around this time last year. All of those vehicles were running and unattended.
"It can happen anywhere, at any time."
Some people have automatic car starters, but this law also includes the keyless starters because it's about leaving the cars running unattended, not just having the key physically in the ignition.
Both Myrick and Snowden said they aren't trying to scare people, they just want people to be mindful of the consequences.