TORONTO -- Mississauga, Ont. nurse Anna Quizeo says she follows the same routine every morning. She backs her car out of the garage and leaves it in the driveway to warm up before she leaves for work. But on Tuesday, Quizeo's morning was completely upended.

"It was like the mountain fell on me when I opened the door because my car was not there," she told CTV News Toronto on Wednesday.

Home surveillance video shows a man in a red hoodie approach Quizeo's vehicle from the sidewalk, open the driver's side door, and drive off along Oscar Peterson Boulevard. The entire incident took place in under 30 seconds.

"It's just bad. It's really really bad to experience this,” Quizeo said. 

car theft Mississauga

Quizeo is a nurse at Credit Valley Hospital. She said was on her way to work -- where everyone is naturally concerned about COVID-19 -- when she realized her 2019 Toyota Highlander was missing.

Peel Regional Police Constable Akhil Mooken says that unfortunately incidents like this are far too common in cold weather.

"In the wintertime, warm-up thefts are one of the primary ways vehicles are stolen, not only in Peel Region, but right across this province."

Mooken says there are several things motorists can do to protect themselves. He suggests drivers lock their doors and remove keys from vehicles that aren't occupied. 

In older vehicles, which do not have push-button starters, he recommends using a lock on the steering wheel or the installation of a remote car starter.

"And if you're able to install a vehicle tracker, that will certainly help police locate that vehicle quicker,” he said. 

Quizeo says her husband had warned her about the risks of car theft in the past. 

empty driveway after car theft

"He said, 'Lock your car, lock your car,' you know? I didn't follow him."

But now, she said, she is not taking any risks especially now that she is reliant on his vehicle.

"I did not even bother to warm up my husband's car today," she said. "Not even when I know there's some ice pellets on it. I just turn it on and go to work. That's it. I don't even want to look around because maybe somebody's watching me again."

Officers from 11 Division's criminal investigations bureau are investigating the theft, which happened around 6:20 a.m. 

For more safety tips, people can visit the Peel Regional Police website.