Waterbury police investigate rash of car thefts related to people warming up cars

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WATERBURY -- Police are investigating the theft of 15 cars in a 24 hour period on Friday.

Police said all the cars were left unattended while running to warm up up when they were stolen.

The thefts occurred all over the city of Waterbury.

Police once again warned residents not to leave cars running or with keys in the ignition.

Check back for further details with the thefts as they develop.

In the meantime, it's important to note that a) it's a violation of state law to leave your car running and unattended for more than three minutes, and b) that the old adage that you need to leave your car idling to warm up before driving it simply isn't true.

The U.S. Department of Energy says warming up your car by idling longer than 30 seconds before you start driving has no benefit, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued similar claims:

Avoid idling. Think about it — idling gets you 0 miles per gallon. The best way to warm up a vehicle is to drive it. No more than 30 seconds of idling on winter days is needed. Anything more simply wastes fuel and increases emissions.

The theory is that newer cars simply don’t need to idle because they have newer technology.

Older cars had carburetors, which needed time to get the right mix of air and fuel in the engine by warming up.

But since 1990, all cars have electronic fuel injection systems with sensors that adjust to the temperature conditions automatically.

Nancy Alderman, president of Connecticut non-profit Environment and Human Health, Inc., warns against excessive idling for several reasons.

“It’s not good for the environment, as we said; it’s loaded with carbon dioxide. It’s not a good thing to do,” said Alderman. She added that it's also bad for your health -- exhaust fumes are linked to increased rates of cancer, heart and lung disease, asthma and allergies.