A rash of car thefts has struck the southeast quarter of Minneapolis of late, and police are saying that many of them involve people warming up their cars and leaving them running and unattended.

That’s not only an invitation to have the vehicle stolen, it can also be against the law in Minneapolis.

From early last week through Wednesday, 17 vehicles have been stolen in the Third Precinct, according to police crime prevention specialist Don Greeley. Of those, Greeley added, 11 were left unattended and running to warm up.

“During the colder months, car thieves take advantage of residents who leave their cars running unattended,” reads a flier that is being distributed in the city’s largest precinct, bound by Interstate 35W on the west, Interstate 94 on the north, the Mississippi River on the east and 62nd Street on the south.

While the “temptation to start the car and let it warm up while you stay warm inside or leaving it running while doing a short errand” can be hard to resist, it cannot only lead to it being stolen but also can lead to a ticket.

Officers in Minneapolis can issue a ticket, carrying a fine of $34, for running and unattended vehicles left on a public street or alley.

The law does not apply in private drives or in a store parking lot, for example.

And while using a remote starter is legal, that option still provides a “temptation” to thieves willing to bust out a window or jimmy a lock, police warn.

As for insurance coverage, a typical policy from State Farm does cover “theft of a vehicle that has been left running,” said Ann Avery, spokeswoman for the nation’s No. 1 vehicle insurer.

That said, Avery served up many tips to prevent vehicle theft. Near the top of the list: “Never leave your vehicle while the engine is running.”