Keep car thieves out in the cold on frosty mornings

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AS WEATHER forecasters warn of cold weather to come, Warwickshire Police is warning motorists to be on the look out.

As temperatures are set to plummet and we look forward to waking up to frost and snow covered cars, the police are warning not to be tempted to leave your car defrosting outside your home, unattended.

“What could be easier for a thief than to find a car with the keys in the ignition and the engine running, “ said George Stepney, Crime Prevention Manager for Warwickshire Police.

“Unfortunately we know there are opportunist thieves who make a point of going to residential areas on cold frosty mornings on the lookout for cars which have been left with the keys in the ignition and the engine running.

“It takes them a matter of seconds to jump in and drive your car away – then it won’t just be the frost that you find has disappeared – your car may have vanished too.”

And the extra sting in the tail is that most motor insurance policies will not pay out for a claim where a car is stolen with the keys in the ignition.

Although it may take a few minutes to stay with your car while it defrosts, it will still take much less time than it takes to phone work to say you will be late because your car has been stolen, to explain to your insurance company what has happened and then to arrange alternative transport.

And it isn’t just outside your house that you need to be extra careful about car security. If you nip in the buy a newspaper on the way to work, buying petrol at the garage or stopping to pick up a take-away on your way home – always take your key out of the ignition and lock the car for the few moments you are away from it.

Advice to help reduce the likelihood of your car being stolen during icy weather includes:

* Always remove the keys from the ignition, even if you get out to open the garage door.

* Stock-up on de-icing materials before the cold spell starts

* Cover your windscreen with a blanket or windshield cover the night before frost is forecast, it will shorten the time it takes to clear your windscreen in the morning

* Put your car away in the garage if one is available. This not only keeps the car frost-free but also out of sight of would-be car thieves.

* Get up a few minutes earlier if frost has been forecast. This will give you extra time to go outside and defrost your car before you need to set off for work.

* Take a cup of tea out to the car with you and sit inside while the engine defrosts the windscreen.

And as a timely reminder, this incident took place in Warwick during a frosty spell at the end of November

A car owner had a narrow escape when he left his car defrosting on the drive outside his home one morning.

Popping back inside his home for a couple of minutes the owner heard his car being revved up outside. Rushing back outside he found a stranger sitting in the driver’s seat preparing to drive off.

The owner initially asked the stranger to get out, but when he refused he physically grabbed him and dragged him from his vehicle. The stranger then ran off down the road.

Speaking about the incident George Stepney, Community Protection Manager said, “This is a classic example of an opportunist thief finding an unattended car on the drive with the engine running. What could be easier to steal?

“The owner was fortunate not to come out and see the tail lights of his car disappearing down the road. The owner had nipped back in the house for a couple of minutes, but this shows how it takes only seconds for a thief to steal an unattended car from outside you house if you leave the engine running.