Arlington police are warning motorists of a rise in car thefts, including cars left unattended while running and cars parked with keys left inside.

Of the 31 vehicles reported stolen in the month of July, nine were running unattended and 12 were unlocked with keys left inside, according to a news release. 

Reported incidents indicate multiple suspects will travel together as they search the area for cars left running unattended. The act of stealing the vehicle takes only seconds. The victims are often food delivery drivers who return from their delivery to find their vehicle has been stolen, police said.

Police have received similar reports of multiple suspects exiting a vehicle and trying the handles of parked vehicles. The suspects enter vehicles that are found to be unlocked with the goal of stealing those with keys left inside. 

The Arlington County Police Department recommends following these safety tips:

  • Be aware of your surroundings, especially in garages, parking lots, and gas stations.

  • Close and lock all windows and doors when you park. Double click the lock button on the key fob to receive a confirmation beep/chirp or pull on the door handle to verify it’s locked.

  • Park in well-lit areas and activate exterior lights at your home.

  • Never leave the area while your vehicle is running – even for a short duration of time. Doing so is illegal in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

  • Do not leave your keys, key fobs, or valet keys in your vehicle. This includes keys to a secondary vehicle.

  • Ensure that your vehicle is turned OFF when leaving it unattended. Vehicles with keyless ignition systems can be driven for extended periods of time even if the key fob is not inside the car. Be sure to read your owner’s manual carefully and familiarize yourself with how to operate your vehicle’s keyless ignition system properly.

  • Keep information, such as the make, model, model year, license plate and VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) easily accessible in the event your vehicle is stolen.

Residents observing suspicious activity should contact the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222. If you see a suspect in your vehicle, do not approach them and dial 911 immediately.

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(3) comments


Where are the police? Only time I see them is stopping motor vehicles that are speeding on 4-lane divided arterials with wide shoulder lanes.


Catching speeders brings in cash. Going after car thieves and murderers takes away time from city priorities.


The Virginia code cited references highways. Maybe share the code (if there is one) that says it's illegal to leave a vehicle running anywhere for a short period of time as implied in this piece?

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