PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — This winter, local enforcement says it’s important to protect yourself from becoming a victim of car theft.

Peoria County Sheriff Chris Watkins said there have been hundreds of cars stolen this year. He said most of the thefts have occurred when drivers leave their keys or fobs in their cars.

As the weather gets colder, Watkins said more people are leaving their vehicles running to warm them up. He said this gives thieves more of an opportunity to take your car.

“It is a big deal and we just want to encourage people to, you know, you might sit in your car while it warms up, use a de-icer, those types of things but a lot of people think it will never happen to them but it doesn’t matter what neighborhood you live in. It can happen anywhere,” Watkins said.

Watkins said many of the car thefts locally are being committed by teens and young kids.