Beware: Car Thieves Target 'Steamers'

The Renton Police and the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office advise against leaving your car idling to warm up.


A pre-warmed car is nice, but consider the risk. A few minutes of discomfort driving in a cold car on a winter morning is a lot less painful than a stolen car.

The Renton Police Department and King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office say leaving an idling car in the driveway to warm up is not a good idea. 

The fact that a car is right in front of a house, or even in your driveway, is no real deterrent to a thief,” Det. Robert Onishi said. “An idling car left unattended is an open invitation to an opportunistic thief, who can see the exhaust from blocks down the road.”

Thieves even have a nickname for early morning idling cars, which they call “steamers.”

A few years ago, a Renton man interrupted such a theft, but was run over and dragged by his own car as the thief drove it away. The victim was found dead at the scene; his killer is still in prison, serving time for his murder.

Renton Police have received no reports of “steamer” thefts this fall; however, the department investigated two such thefts early last spring.


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