Charlotte woman's car stolen from apartment complex while warming up

A warning coming from one Charlotte resident who had her car stolen while warming it up on Tuesday: "Do not leave your car running and the doors unlocked.” 

Tracy Harden started her car and left it running at her North Charlotte apartment complex. She says she was gone 10 minutes, just long enough to knock the chill off, but when she returned her car was gone. 

"First I looked and I said wait a minute, I'm looking around, where's my car? I know where I left it, where's my car? Then I went back into my apartment and I reported that my car was stolen,” Harden said. 

CMPD says car thieves have been busy since temperatures dipped below freezing. 

"56 cars that have been stolen from December 26 through January 3, that's up a couple from 53 this time last year,” said CMPD Public Information Officer Rob Tufano, 

Police say don't underestimate thieves and make yourself an easy target.

"And don't think for a second these thieves aren't smart enough to know that when the temperatures drop that people are doing this, that they're warming their cars up and they're looking for opportunities."

Harden says her community is gated and she's never heard of cars being stolen from the complex, so she thought it was safe. Now she feels violated and wants others to know that leaving your car running isn't worth it. 

"Whatever neighborhood you in don't ever think that you are safe. Get a spare key, try to lock your car and warm it that way but don't ever take what area you're in for granted and think that you're safe because you're not,” says Harden. 

A Charlotte city ordinance prohibits leaving your car running anywhere other than private property. police say they can issue a ticket if you're car is left running and unattended.