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car theft winter cold weather puffing
Puffing: the act of turning your car on to warm up, often leaving your keys inside, while you head back indoors to wait. The term puffing is named after the exhaust “puff” that comes out of your car’s tailpipe during this practice.


Puffing makes your car a prime target for thieves. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), “thousands of vehicles are stolen each year with the keys left inside.”


A successful way to reduce the risk of your car being stolen while warming it up is to use a remote starter rather than having to leave your keys in the car. However, an increasing number of states and municipalities have been cracking down on any form of puffing, banning the practice altogether (even if your car is on your property rather than a street or parking lot.) Make sure you know your state and local laws regarding puffing so you don’t receive a citation.


If you are going to practice puffing, the NICB recommends the following tips to prevent your car from being stolen:
  • Lock the vehicle, set the alarm, and take all keys or fobs.
  • Do not leave the garage door opener in the vehicle.
  • Take a picture of your registration on your cell phone. Do not leave the registration or other papers with personal information in the vehicle.
  • Never leave a car unlocked and running to warm it up. It only takes a moment for an opportunistic thief to jump inside and drive off.


Anyone with information concerning vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling the NICB toll-free 800.TEL.NICB (800.835.6422) or submitting a form on the NICB website.


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Erica Dalton

Merchants Insurance Group

Merchants Insurance Group sells its products through a network of more than 1,000 independent insurance agents in Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. We sell our products through independent insurance agents because we believe they provide value to policyholders through their broad range of products and their insurance expertise.