NEWARK, NJ — Drivers who leave their cars idling unattended in Newark in an effort to warm up their vehicles will find themselves on a short road to costly fines this winter, the city's Department of Public Safety warns.

While the state statute addressing penalties for idling cars was originally implemented to reduce air pollution, Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said his department is renewing the enforcement of penalties to reduce car thefts in the city. 

Cars found idling while unattended will land drivers with no less than a $250 summons for a single offense, but the punishment pales in comparison to replacing a stolen vehicle. Either way, idling your car is going to cost you. 

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In 2019, 297 of Newark’s overall car thefts were attributed to drivers leaving their idling cars unattended. 

“That’s 22 percent of all stolen cars. Residents who leave their cars idling for heat need to end this practice if your vehicle is left unsecured,” Ambrose said in a press release. “This is creating a hazard for the car owner and for the community as a whole.”

Cars stolen while idling are particularly challenging for law enforcement as they do not show the typical signs of ignition tampering or auto theft, Ambrose said. The crackdown will not apply to school buses, according to the press release. 

Newark Public Safety urges drivers to take precautions such as installing a remote starter to heat or cool their cars or a vehicle tracking device. Drivers should never leave their keys in the ignition or in plain sight.