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Middleton police squad tight crop

Middleton police are advising residents to not leave keys in unlocked and running vehicles, following a car theft Tuesday morning of a vehicle warming up in the frigid weather.

The car theft happened at about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday in the 6700 block of Franklin Avenue, police said.

The vehicle was recovered a short time later on the South Side of Madison.

"Middleton and Dane County as a whole has seen a substantial increase in theft of motor vehicles," said Middleton Police Detective Sgt. Darrin Zimmerman.

"The target vehicles have all been unlocked, with keys left in them," Zimmerman said. "This is a preventable crime."

For those who want to warm up their cars, police advise residents to either use a remote start feature so the vehicle can remain locked, or take the keyless entry fob off the key ring and lock the doors.

"If your vehicle does not have these features, consider using a spare key to lock your running vehicle," Zimmerman said.

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Bill Novak is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.