Is it legal to leave your car running while unattended?

Many do it every day, leave their car turned on while running in to the store for just a few minutes. Is it legal?

It's a pretty common scene some witness just about every day: someone only wants to take a minute to run into a store to pick up your dry cleaning or to grab something cool to drink...and they don't want to turn their car off.

Is that act of leaving your car unattended and running legal? The answer is: Yes and No.

It's kind of confusing. It turns out that it is legal, but with certain restrictions.

Residents have a five minute window where you can leave your car unattended. However, if there are children in the car, someone at least 14 or older must be in the car with the kids.

It's the kind of scene J.R. Hensley at Pak-a-Sak sees all the time and he says he's seen officials warn customers no to do it.

"When I see it., it makes me nervous," he said. "I'll have police, sheriff's and DPS come in to the store and they'll tell the person (who left their car running and/or unattended) they need to turn the car off, lock it, and take the keys out."

Shane Tyree works at all the stores as their service manager, and he says it's more common than most people realize.

"I see it 10 times or more a day. To me, you're inviting someone to take it. Not everyone's a criminal, but some people take opportunity and run with it."

According to Amarillo police leaving your car unattended and running is a bad idea in any instance.

"If you're going into a store, just turn off the car and take the keys with you," said Corporal Jerry Neufeld of the Amarillo Police Department. "I know it's difficult with small kids but if you're just going in for coffee or a soft drink, then you're better and safer to take the kids with you. Sorry, it's an inconvenience but we're talking about what best for the children."

The only time it is always illegal according to police: It is against the law to leave your car running and unattended while parked on a city street.