On a bitterly cold January 16th morning, ten Arvada police officers patrolled the city looking for cars running unattended. Known as “puffers” because of the puffs of smoke being emitted from the tailpipe of the vehicles, there were nearly 100 people contacted within a three-hour period by patrol officers on puffer duty.
Citizens contacted either received a warning flyer or were issued a municipal citation for leaving a car running unattended.
“Some people might not think it’s a big deal to leave a car running unattended, but the fact is, criminals oftentimes work in teams to steal cars left to idle in a driveway or parking lots. They will then use the vehicle to commit other crimes such as burglaries or robberies,” said Arvada police detective Bill Johnson who is the department’s auto theft investigator.
Johnson adds identity theft can be associated with puffer crimes because documents left in a car such as vehicle registrations and or even financial devices such as checks and credit cards can and will be used by thieves.
For those who think their car is safe to run unattended after locking the door, think again. An auto theft suspect will simply break the window to gain access to the car.
Det. Johnson advises drivers to bundle-up, get a hot cup of coffee and stay inside your vehicle while it warms to avoid becoming a victim of auto theft.
Plans are in place for another puffer enforcement event in February.