NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — It’s a cold weather crackdown. The NYPD is ticketing drivers who leave their cars running, unattended, in order to warm them up.

Cars left running with keys in the ignition are easy pickings for car thieves.

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“Ain’t nobody wants to stand outside and wait for the car to warm up in 20-degree weather,” Greg Gabriel told CBS2’s Tony Aiello.

But sport-utility vehicle owner Tony Meilak left his vehicle running outside for 20 minutes, just long enough to defrost the windshield so he could scrape away two inches of thick ice.

Meilak said he wasn’t afraid of having his car stolen.

“Look, you think they could get out right away?” Meilak said.

It wouldn’t matter to the NYPD, which has been ticketing cars left unattended. It’s against state vehicle and traffic law, even if the car is in your driveway.

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“I know better than to leave my car running unattended. I would never ever do that,” Colby Oliver said.

Others either don’t know or don’t care.

In a space of two blocks of Steinway Street in Astoria, Queens, CBS2’s cameras found a Chevy and a BMW, both left running unattended.

A spike in car thefts last year prompted the NYPD to get tough with those who make it easy for car thieves to strike.

Police will even open an unattended car, take the keys out, lock the car, and leave a note instructing the owner to pick the keys up at the local precinct.

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Cops say crews of car thieves have been cruising neighborhoods looking for cars left running.