Memphis police writing more citations for cars left running and unattended

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- You could be slapped with a $62 fine by police — after your car is stolen.

It's happened to a lot of Memphians recently, because police say more criminals are taking advantage of cars left unattended and running while they warm up.

Police say a car left idling crates a crime of opportunity, and it tempts a criminal to hop in.

It happened last Friday. Police said two men jumped into a car warming up in the icy weather right outside a Cooper-Young home.

A city ordinance allows police to slap drivers with a fine and court date if there car is left unattended and running.

It looks like MPD is issuing more and more tickets, too.

Their stats show in 2015, officers wrote 70 citations. In 2016, they wrote 50.

During the first half of 2017, they wrote 150, and during the past three months, 252.

"People need to start cutting their car off and putting their keys in their pocket!" said Vance McAllister.

He said he sees unattended running cars too often at the gas station on Knight Arnold where he helps out.

In fact, police recently wrote four citations there.

"You've got these little, young boys walking around here hungry and half homeless. Hell! They get the car and just ride," he said.

Those who've had their idling cars stolen have told us a citation felt unnecessary.

"That was crazier than getting my car stolen!" said Eric Hayes back in July, when he got a citation.

MPD told us they've been writing more citations, because more criminals are taking advantage of those unattended idling cars. They say it creates a danger and takes resources off the streets.