Just before 9 a.m. one day last month, Johnson County sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a vehicle stolen in the Carefree subdivision, south of County Line Road. The resident told police he had started his black 1995 Nissan 2SR that was parked in his driveway to let it warm up. While inside the house, he heard an engine rev and then saw a man heading south in his car.

A man wearing a stocking cap was following his car in what looked like a dark-colored sport utility vehicle or pickup truck with a camper shell, according to the police report.

Sadly, this isn’t an isolated incident. When the temperature drops, more residents will leave their vehicles running to warm up before they head out in the morning. But leaving a vehicle unattended makes it too easy for thieves to drive off in the vehicle.

“We need people to stop warming up their cars with the doors unlocked. I know methods like remote starters cost money, but they’ll keep your doors locked while the car warms up,” Sheriff Doug Cox said.

That’s just one piece of winter travel advice. Here are some others from the Indiana Department of Transportation:

  • Check tire pressure and tread depth for traction.
  • Keep at least one-half tank of gas in the vehicle to keep fuel lines from freezing.
  • Check the battery, heater and defroster before temperatures get too cold.
  • Keep an emergency kit in the car with items like blankets, flashlights, bottled water and food, plus first-aid kits and a shovel.
  • Refill antifreeze and washer fluid.
  • If locks freeze, heat the key instead of pouring hot water on the locks — that water could refreeze and make it harder to get into the car.
  • If your car is stranded, don’t leave it. The Indiana State Police says the vehicle is the best protection you have against bad weather.

Instead, state police advise people to let the car idle and roll down the window a small amount. Make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t blocked and tie a bright-colored cloth to the vehicle’s antenna to alert people to your location.

We haven’t had much true winter weather yet this season, but we will. If the heavy late-December rain had been snow, we would still be buried. So brush up on your winter safety plan now and keep safe throughout the season.

On the Web

Winter driving tips are available at in.gov/indot/2439.htm/.

At issue

Winter brings a special of hazards for drivers.

Our point

By following some simple tips, motorists can reduce the likelihood of a problem.