The Dallas Police Department wants to remind citizens of the dangers of leaving vehicles running while unattended.
This time of year people like to go out and start their car to warm it up, or leave it running while they go into a store for just a “couple of minutes.” Not only is it against the law to leave your unattended vehicle running (Texas Transportation Code 545.404), it’s extremely dangerous and it puts you at risk of not only being the victim of vehicle theft, but also having the items inside your vehicle stolen.
Compounding this situation is when a child is left inside the running, unattended vehicle. We all understand the inconvenience of loading, unloading and reloading a child into a vehicle. However, we must never put our own convenience above the safety of our children. Your quick run into the store can easily take much longer than you had originally planned. Vehicles are stolen with children alone inside quite frequently. This happens even in the safest neighborhoods and it only takes a few seconds for a thief to jump into your vehicle and take off with your child in tow. Texas Penal Code 22.041 states that a person having custody, care, or control of a child younger than 15 years can be charged with Abandoning or Endangering a Child if intentionally abandoning the child in any place under circumstances that expose the child to an unreasonable risk of harm. This carries a punishment of 180 days to two years in jail, as well as a possible fine not to exceed $10,000.
The Dallas Police Department encourages citizens to take the few extra seconds necessary to shut off and secure their vehicle, and to remove children when leaving their vehicles unattended. Our hope is that every parent is educated about these frightening situations that happen all too often. Think it can’t happen to you or your child? Think again. These are not risks you want to take with your child.