When Tim Knight got out of bed to head to work this morning, he didn’t know he would make himself a crime target.
He left his black 1984 Chevrolet Blazer parked in front of his central Modesto home with the keys in the ignition and the engine running.
Like others in Modesto, Knight was warming up his engine while he finished getting ready to leave. It’s a move that made him an easy prey for vehicle thieves hoping to catch residents off-guard.
"It takes forever for the engine to warm up," said Knight, 39. "I was just going inside to grab my coffee real quick."
Fortunately, Modesto police Sgt. Aaron Tait spotted Knight’s unattended Blazer warming up and stopped to tell him how he had made himself vulnerable to thieves.
Tait's warning to Knight was part of a multi-agency public awareness effort carried out early this morning to urge Modesto resident not to leave their idling vehicles unattended.
"It’s a crime of opportunity," Tait said. "We’re just trying to get the message out."
A small team from Modesto police, the Stanislaus County Auto Theft Task Force, and the California Highway Patrol hit the streets about 6 a.m. looking for idling unattended vehicles.
Within 90 minutes, the team found 25 unattended vehicles in Modesto. Tait said it begins to happen more often as the weather gets colder.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at 578-2394.