Police could ticket car owners for leaving keys in cars, but rar - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Police could ticket car owners for leaving keys in cars, but rarely do

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A rarely enforced city of Madison ordinance allows police to ticket car owners who leave keys in their cars.

But despite the recent rash of car thefts -- most stolen with the keys still in them -- police rarely issue a ticket, according to Madison Police Chief Mike Koval.

Madison General Ordinance 12.128(1), penalizes owners with a $45 ticket for leaving keys in their car while it is parked on public property.

In an email to WKOW News, Koval confirmed there is such an ordinance, but he says the police have no desire to add insult to injury when someone has their car stolen by ticketing them. 

He says officers do use stolen cars as "teachable moments" about leaving keys in cars. 

Police also advise drivers there is another ordinance, 12.1291, prohibiting a person from idling their vehicle more than five minutes to, for example, warm it up in cold weather. 

Both of these ordinances are applicable only on public property such as a street, alley or any parking lot. 

Some communities, like Verona, have a similar ordinance with a fine while others, like Middleton, have none. 

Koval says Madison Police and the City Attorney's office do not believe ticketing and fining a driver for leaving keys in a car "is an effective remedy for someone who has already had their privacy violated and their car stolen".

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