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$114 fine awaits drivers doing this with their car keys

(AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

A $114 penalty could burn a hole in the wallets of NSW drivers who perform a very common act with their car key.

NSW Police confirmed with Yahoo Finance that any motorist that leaves their key in the ignition then walks more than 3 metres away is breaking the law – if there's no adult remaining in the car.

The definition of an adult in this situation is 16 years of age or older.

The rule is similar to one which sees drivers also fined $114 if they walk away more than 3m after leaving a door unlocked or a window open more than 2cm.

Spokesperson for insurance comparison site greenslips.com.au, Corrina Baird, said that such laws might seem petty, but they exist for a good reason.

"Inviting theft creates unnecessary work for the police. Inviting theft also creates work for car insurers and costs them money."

In July last year, police in Wollongong deliberately opened cars that were parked on the street but left unlocked.

"Unfortunately it was pretty disappointing. We found 30 vehicles over a couple of nights unlocked and with property in them," detective inspector Brad Ainsworth told ABC News at the time.

Police did not issue fines during that patrol but posted warnings to the offending car owners.

However, Sydneysider Ben Judd was not so lucky in January when he parked at a service station to buy a pie. Police wrote a ticket while he was in the store.

"He gave me $112 fine for leaving windows down/car unlocked!" Judd said on social media.

"I was parked inside the petrol station, not on a road... Revenue raising at its finest. Thoughts? Is that even a law?"

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