One Florida lawmaker doesn’t have any sympathy for car theft victims who left their cars running and unattended.
Rep. Wengay Newton is supporting a bill that would make it a second-degree misdemeanor if victims of car theft left the keys in their car with the vehicle running, according to a report from WFTS in Tampa. So, if you leave your car running and unattended with the keys in it, and the car is stolen, you could actually be at fault and face charges.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, this would only apply if it happened during the actual theft. Otherwise, it would be a noncriminal traffic violation, which is what the law is now.
The second-degree misdemeanor could result in a fine up to $500 and 60 days in jail.
“Juveniles are crashing into people, killing themselves,” Newton said. “I look back at the beginning and say, but for the keys being left in the vehicle and this crime of opportunity prevailing itself, we wouldn’t have stolen cars and these crashes.”
St. Petersburg police reported that about 70 percent of car thefts in the area were done with vehicles that had keys inside the car.
Some Florida police aren’t fans of the proposed law, and a state attorney didn’t think it was a good idea either.
In theory, it makes sense to punish people for leaving keys in their car with the vehicle running. But it will probably be difficult to pass a law punishing people with a misdemeanor for doing so.