BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A new study reveals an alarming number of parents admit to leaving their small children alone in the backseat of cars. The survey has some safety workers on edge.

Gigi Barnett explains why.

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Detectives say it’s a problem in all seasons–parents leaving small children alone in vehicles. Over the winter, police say Juan Carlos Diaz left his grandson behind to go shopping at Arundel Mills Mall.

Detectives say Alicia Brown did it, too. Security at Maryland Live! Casino found Brown’s 4-year-old in a cold car while her mother was inside.

A new study released this week backs up what police know–parents are doing it on purpose.

“Many parents think I could just run in, leave my air conditioning on, they’ll be OK. Never ever should you do this,” said Ragina Cooper Averella, AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson.

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According to the study by Public Opinion Strategies of Washington, 14 percent of parents surveyed admit to leaving their 5-year-olds in the car alone. Even more alarming–23 percent of parents with kids under three say they’ve done it.

It’s cause for concern as the weather heats up. Temperatures inside a car can rapidly reach 200 degrees.

“Children are left in the car and then die of heatstroke,” Averella said.

Last year, 44 kids died of heatstroke in cars nationwide. It is the leading cause of non-crash car deaths for children. The only rule of thumb here: when you get out, kids should too.

“It does take work to take them out, but it’s worth it. Every time,” said parent Sara Schueler.

Another way to make sure your child isn’t left alone in the car–place a purse or briefcase in the backseat so you’re forced to check that area when you park.

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