Remote starters could be answer to rash of “puffer” thefts in Longmont

It’s a frigid northern Colorado winter morning and the temperature hovers close to zero.

In order to give the seat warmers a chance to get nice and toasty, you turn on the car and walk back inside to drink the cinnamon mocha cappuccino brewing on the Keurig. Convenient, but you run the risk of returning to an empty driveway and tire tracks heading up the street and around the corner.

Then you’re walking to work.

Longmont police have taken reports of three puffer thefts since Dec. 28, and 22 auto thefts overall. Police have recovered some of the vehicles but, as Cmdr. Jeff Satur has put it, “They aren’t driving them like they are going to church.”

If police don’t find the vehicle, or if it is totaled by thieves, the owner has insurance companies to deal with and the headaches associated with buying a new car and not having one in the interim.

Besides that, people who take “puffer cars” sometimes use them to embark on auto theft sprees or wild, multi-jurisdictional high-speed chases with police that end in crashes. Both of these scenarios have begun in or involved Longmont, the former a little more than a week ago.

Satur said officers contacted 24 people on Wednesday morning about their running, unattended vehicles but issued no tickets because the department is mostly concerned with educating the public. Depending on the weather, they might be out again Friday.

For those who refuse to suffer the indignity of sitting in the car for a few mintues while it warms up, a solution exists — the remote starter.

Mike Bagaas, the owner of Safe & Sound, said remote starters have been around in one form or another since the 1980s and basically emulate a key being in the ignition of a car so its owner can fire up the engine from the comfort of his living room.

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