The white truck was idling in the parking lot of the QuikTrip at 1010 E. Washington early on a frigid, biting Wednesday morning.
No one was inside the truck, making it a tempting target for auto thieves.
Wichita police officer Mike Brown parked in the lot, walked over to the truck and was preparing to leave a note on the windshield when the driver emerged from the convenience store.
"I didn't do it!" he insisted, though he wasn't sure why the officer was there.
Brown and several other officers around the city spent Wednesday morning putting "If I were a thief" notes on vehicles left running while unattended.
While it is legal to leave unattended vehicles running in Wichita, Brown said, it's foolish. Auto thieves are thriving on the laziness of drivers who don't want to climb into a cold car.
On cold mornings such as Wednesday — when temperatures at sunrise were in single digits and the wind chill was below zero — a police officer could readily find 15 to 20 vehicles left running unattended, Brown said.
Car thefts typically jump on cold mornings such as Wednesday, police say, because so many people leave cars running while they're getting ready for work or dashing into a convenience store for a cup of coffee.
As the note Brown left on the windshields states, it can take less than a minute for thieves to steal a car — especially if it's been left with the engine running.
And even if the car is recovered, it's likely been damaged or had personal property stolen from it.
Police statistics show that 183 vehicles were stolen while left running unattended in 2007 and 177 running cars were stolen last year. Statistics for this year have not been compiled yet.
Read more at Kansas.com