Teen failed to steal car in West Windsor because it had a manual transmission

Last week a teenager tried to steal a car at the Princeton Terrace Apartments in West Windsor one morning just before 7:30 a.m.. The owner had left the keys in the vehicle to warm up the car, and the engine was running.

The teen was unable to drive the vehicle because it had a manual transmission.The teen then fled on foot an entered a Ford Taurus. The driver of the Ford apparently dropped the teen off to steal the vehicle and was waiting for him.

Police received a call about a black male in gold sneakers trying to steal the vehicle. The driver of the Ford made an illegal left onto Clarksville Road southbound after leaving the scene, and was intercepted by two police officers without incident.

The teen, a 16-year-old from Willingboro, was taken into protective custody. He was also carrying ten one-gram bags of marijuana.

Police have warned residents to not leave vehicles running with the keys in the ignition, especially while the vehicles are unsecured and unattended. There has been a rise of this type of car thefts, police said. Idling for more than three minutes is also illegal in the state of New Jersey. If the temperature is below 25 degrees, idling for up to 15 minutes is allowed.

“We want our community to be as safe as possible,” West Windsor Police Department representatives said in a statement about the incident. “This situation could have had a much worse outcome for everyone involved.”

A previous version of this story listed idling as illegal in the state. Planet Princeton has clarified the state law and regrets the error.


  1. I’d still drive a manual trans car if it weren’t for the traffic jams. I know how hellish this can be – a real clutch killer too. I drove manual cars for years. The only reason to “warm up” modern cars is to get the heat working. However my Swedish sport wagon has heated seats and warms up in only a couple minutes due to the small turbocharged engine.

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