In colder months, it's not uncommon for parents to leave their cars running in the driveway to warm it up before heading out for the day. It's also not unheard of for parents to leave their kids in a running car while they complete a quick errand, like when dropping off their oldest child at school, for instance. Sometimes this act is referred to as "puffing," a phenomenon that can be risky. Case in point: This mom is warning parents about puffing after her car was stolen with her young twins inside.
This terrifying story began when Tricia Doyle of Colorado — who had been running errands — made a pitstop at her home while her almost 2-year-old twins slept in the backseat, according to NBC-affiliate KUSA. Doyle figured she'd just be a second grabbing her older child to take him to school at about 7:30 a.m., so in a practice police call "puffing," Doyle did what other moms probably have done before: She left the kids in the car with it running, according to NBC-affiliate WGRZ.
"By the time she got out, in a very short span of time, we're probably talking 30 seconds to a minute, minute 1/2, that car was gone," Commander Mark Fleecs told WGRZ.
Doyle echoed this account, sharing her horror in a Wednesday news conference. "I turned around to come back out. My heart fell out of my chest when I realized my car wasn't there," she explained, according to KUSA. "And the first thing I thought was, 'What about my children?'"
She continued, "I ran down the street even to see if I could see where the car had gone. It was utter panic."
After calling 911, authorities were able to track the cellphone that had been left inside the stolen car using an app installed on it, according to CBS Denver. Doyle's car was found within 30 minutes, nine to 10 blocks away from her house, according to the outlet. And luckily, her twins were unharmed and still safely strapped in their seats.
Doyle urged parents to realize they're not immune from this possibility happening, stating, according to CBS Denver: "It never occurred to me that it would really happen to me, and what followed was the worst 30 minutes of my life. So I just want to say to anyone who's watching or listening, don't leave your cars running. It's just not worth it...I will never do it again."
Luckily, in the case of the Denver mama, all's well that ends well, as she told WGRZ her 2-year-olds were napping and "had no clue" about what happened.
Oklahoma's Channel 9 News was one of several news stations warning the public last winter about "puffing" when the temperatures plummet, with many people presumably thinking they'll get a handle on the morning by warming up their vehicle before they depart home, only to have it stolen from their driveway.
This scary story is another reminder for parents to slow down, as saving time is not worth the possible risk. Trust me, as a mom with multiple drop-offs in the morning, I get it. But I've since come to realize getting my kids to school on time isn't worth anyone getting hurt. So if you see a mom happily driving her minivan in the slow lane ... know that's me. Safety first, as the saying goes.