Northumbria Police is reminding motorists to be cautious when defrosting their vehicles on icy winter mornings.
In previous years, police have seen an increase in the number of vehicles stolen after being left unattended with the engine running to de-ice the windscreen. In most instances, the owner had gone back into the house.
The advice forms part of Operation Soundwave – a campaign aimed at cutting volume crime and tackling opportunist thieves, which will continue over the winter months.
Chief Inspector Steve Hails, from Newcastle Area Command, said: “With temperatures falling over recent days, we want to remind people of some basic crime prevention advice to help stop them from being a victim of crime.
“It can be tempting to start the vehicle and leave the engine running while the windows are defrosting. We want people to think about the risk this poses – an unattended car or van with the keys in the ignition is an open invitation to thieves and we have seen instances where thieves have roamed the streets on frosty mornings looking for an opportunity to steal a car or van that has been left.
“Even if the vehicle is nearby or only left for a few moments these thefts can be completely avoided by not leaving the vehicle unattended at all. It’s also worth bearing in mind that insurers may not pay out if the car is stolen in these circumstances.”