Cold weather spurs spike in hot cars

The number of car thefts in Medford nearly doubled last month compared with December 2012.

Medford police reported 27 vehicles were stolen while they were parked in driveways or on the street. Some were taken while they were left running to warm up.

"We had a very cold December, and a lot of people were warming vehicles up in their driveways, and that's how they're being stolen," said Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau.

Two thefts were reported Christmas Eve, two were reported Christmas Day and two more on New Year's Eve. In December 2012, 14 car thefts were reported. October and November 2013 saw 16 and 15 incidents, respectively.

"Usually the vehicles are recovered several days or weeks later," Budreau said, adding the thieves typically use the cars for transportation instead of for quick profit from scrapped parts. "We don't think this is an organized chop-shop kind of thing."

The cases are under investigation, and no suspects have been identified.

Car thefts typically increase during the winter months, but December's spike leads investigators to believe the same people are behind most of the reported cases.

"It's definitely something unique about this year," Budreau said. "It's probably going to be the work of one or two individuals committing the crimes."

Investigators remind vehicle owners to keep their cars locked and secured during the night and to keep the keys indoors. Motorists should not allow their vehicles to idle unattended, as it is an invitation to thieves.

"I think it's just a grim reminder," Budreau said. "It's just a poor practice, and it's a good way to lose your car."

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or

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