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Car thefts rise during winter: Why you shouldn’t leave your car to warm up unattended



hacking machine

It’s not uncommon for drivers to leave their cars to warm up as they prepare to head to school, work or home on a frigid winter morning or dark and chilly evening.

Unfortunately for the owner, an unattended vehicle left running with the keys inside is an inviting opportunity for thieves.

During winter, auto theft rises by about 25 percent, according to Alex Lauderdale, a transportation analyst at

“This occurs largely [because] winter nights are longer and darker, offering car thieves more time and cover to carry out large numbers of vehicle thefts,” Lauderdale told AccuWeather. “People are also more likely to leave their cars unattended on cold mornings while they let them warm up and defrost, offering thieves the perfect opportunity to strike.”

A 2019 poll conducted by Branded Research found that about four in 10 United States consumers either always or sometimes warm up their cars in the winter while leaving it unattended and operating. The poll also found that about one in 10 consumers have experienced car theft as a result.

“Many drivers want their heater to fully kick on before heading to work, or often they think the car runs better once it’s warmed up, so they put the keys in the ignition, turn on the engine and head back inside to finish getting ready,” said Jake McKenzie, content manager for Auto Accessories Garage.

“Thieves know all about this wintertime practice, and they will drive around in groups throughout suburban neighborhoods looking for idling empty cars,” McKenzie said.

Idling your vehicle may not be necessary due to advances in technology.

In modern vehicles, driving helps the engine reach its ideal operating temperature faster than idling it, and the catalytic converter, which reduces emissions, operates much sooner if you’re driving the car, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Most vehicle manufacturers recommend avoiding idling your car even on the coldest days and instead driving off gently after letting it run for about half a minute.

The engine will warm up more quickly by being at work, and the interior of your car will heat up faster as well, the U.S. Department of Energy reports.

“When people discuss warming an engine up before driving to prevent wear and tear, that usually refers to the carburetor-equipped engines of yesteryear,” McKenzie said. “Chances are that your more modern vehicle employs fuel injection and an engine control unit that can operate efficiently in subzero temperatures.”

Not only might it be unnecessary to leave your car running outside your home or even a convenience store for a quick stop, but it’s also illegal in some states. Drivers could face fines in states including Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Colorado and Utah.

Preventing car theft in winter

To minimize the risk of having your car stolen during the colder months, Lauderdale recommended not letting your car out of your sight while deicing. “Save the windshield for last, as this can serve as a theft deterrent,” he said.

He also advised keeping vehicles parked in a well-lit area so that potential thieves don’t have the cover of darkness. “If you have the opportunity to park in your garage, do so. This is your safest bet,” Lauderdale said.

It’s also strongly recommended that drivers never leave their keys inside a running and unattended vehicle, even if it’s just for a minute. Keeping valuables like credit cards, cell phones and purses out of sight or hidden in the trunk is also advised.

In case your vehicle does get stolen, it’s also a bad idea to leave your vehicle title in the car, as it makes you a target for identity theft as well as helping thieves more easily dispose of your vehicle, according to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Research Services.

Experts also suggest always keeping windows rolled up and doors locked, even if the vehicle is parked in your driveway or garage.


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9-year-old genius to graduate university




Laurent Simons

(CNN) – A child prodigy from Belgium is on course to gain a bachelor’s degree at the tender age of 9.

Laurent Simons is studying electrical engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) — a tough course even for students of an average graduate age.

Described by staff as “simply extraordinary,” Laurent is on course to finish his degree in December.

He then plans to embark on a PhD program in electrical engineering while also studying for a medicine degree, his father told CNN.

His parents, Lydia and Alexander Simons, said they thought Laurent’s grandparents were exaggerating when they said he had a gift, but his teachers soon concurred.

“They noticed something very special about Laurent,” said Lydia.

Laurent was given test after test as teachers tried to work out the extent of his talents. “They told us he is like a sponge,” said Alexander.

While Laurent comes from a family of doctors, his parents have so far not received any explanation as to why their child prodigy is capable of learning so quickly.

But Lydia has her own theory.

“I ate a lot of fish during the pregnancy,” she joked.

The TUE has allowed Laurent to complete his course faster than other students.

“That is not unusual,” said Sjoerd Hulshof, education director of the TUE bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, in a statement.

“Special students that have good reasons for doing so can arrange an adjusted schedule. In much the same way we help students who participate in top sport.”

Hulshof said Laurent is “simply extraordinary” and praised the youngster.

“Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,” he said. “Not only is he hyper intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.”

Laurent told CNN his favorite subject is electrical engineering and he’s also “going to study a bit of medicine.”

His progress has not gone unnoticed and he is already being sought out by prestigious universities around the world, although Laurent’s family wouldn’t be drawn on naming which of them he is considering for his PhD.

“The absorption of information is no problem for Laurent,” said his father.

“I think the focus will be on research and applying the knowledge to discover new things.”

While Laurent is evidently able to learn faster than most, his parents are being careful to let him enjoy himself too.

“We don’t want him to get too serious. He does whatever he likes,” said Alexander. “We need to find a balance between being a child and his talents.”

Laurent said he enjoys playing with his dog Sammy and playing on his phone, like many young people.

However, unlike most 9-year-olds, he has already worked out what he wants to do with his life: develop artificial organs.

In the meantime, Laurent has to finish his bachelor’s degree and choose which academic institution will play host to the next stage in his remarkable journey.

Before that, he plans on taking a vacation to Japan for an undoubtedly well-deserved break.

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New award to honor arts and activism named after Lena Horne




Lena Horne

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Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem




Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem

Two gangbangers aimed their BMW like a missile at a father and his 8-year-old son on a Harlem sidewalk in a horrifying incident captured by video distributed by police Thursday.

The BMW — driven by a man police believe is a member of the Gorilla Stone Bloods Gang — was zeroed in on the father, a rival gang member, said cops.

Around 3:45 p.m. Nov. 6, the boy and his father were walking on W. 112th St. by Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. when the BMW jumped the sidewalk and slammed into them both, said cops.

Father and son were both knocked through a gate.

The BMW driver then backed up — and its driver and passenger, also believed to be a gang member, jumped out of the car and ran toward the father and the son.

One of the attackers slashed the father, identified by sources as 32-year-old Brian McIntosh, who’s served prison time for robbery and bail jumping.

McIntosh and his son went to Harlem Hospital. Miraculously, the boy escaped serious harm.

McIntosh was so adamant about refusing to help police catch his attackers that the young boy’s mother had to file a police report alleging he was the victim of a crime, police sources said.

Cops released video of the attack, and ask anyone with information about the suspects to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.


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