"The majority of our auto thefts are the keys are in the vehicle."
- Joe Nickerson, Casper Crime Prevention Officer
Wyoming’s frigid temperatures can be a hassle, whether it’s your heating bill or even just stepping outside, but the sub-zero temperatures can be an asset to protecting your home and car.
Natrona County Sheriff Gus Holbrook says, "As Lt. Mark Sellers coined it several years ago. He called them 'fair weather criminals.' They're much like us they don't like the cold either and they don't like being out in cold. So we do see the crime rate drop when it is cold outside. When it starts to warm up we do see the crime rate go up."
The Casper area sees a lot of what police call “Opportunist Crimes.” Casper Crime Prevention Officer Joe Nickerson says, "A lot of our crime is just people out and about causing trouble. There just out walking around neighborhoods, they get dumb ideas in their head and do dumb stuff. Whether it's breaking into cars or harassing people. So those kinds of people the opportunists aren't out when it's cold."
Residents can make a thief’s job even easier during the winter months; a lot of people will go out and start their car to warm up when it’s cold, leaving nothing but a gold mine for the right person. "First of all if you leave your vehicle running unattended on the streets it's against the law," Holbrook said, while Nickerson agrees. "The majority of our auto thefts are the keys are in the vehicle."
You may even think you’ll be fine because it’s only five-to-ten minutes. "If you leave the key in your vehicle and it's running and unlocked it's going to be gone in a matter of seconds if somebody wants to steal the vehicle," Holbrook said.
However, not wanting to step outside does bring a different type of call to police. "If we have a long cold spell, we'll get an increase in domestic violence and disturbances in homes because I guess Cabin Fever. People get pinned up with each other for a few days not getting out because it's too cold and get fed up with each other and one thing leads to another," Nickerson said.