Police warn drivers to beware of sneak thieves as cold snap takes hold

Watch out for thieves while de-icing the car.

Watch out for thieves while de-icing the car.

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Motorists are being warned to watch out for opportunist thieves as they de-ice their vehicles during the cold snap.

Northumbria Police said that in previous years, cars have been stolen from driveways after being left unattended with the engine running to de-ice the vehicle while the owner has gone back into the house.

With weather forecasters predicting colder weather, police want to make sure motorists are ahead of the game and fully prepared.

T/Superintendent Sarah Pitt said: "We've been experiencing some unseasonably mild weather recently and there hasn't really been the need for people to de-ice their vehicles. However, with weather forecasters predicting a colder snap for this week it is timely for us to remind people to be careful when de-icing their vehicle.

"It may seem unbelievable but in the past we have had cases where cars have been stolen from someone's driveway after they've gone out started the car and then left it with the engine running to warm up and de-ice while they've popped back into the house. Unfortunately, car thieves are wise to this and will be out and about looking for these opportunities where they can quickly jump in a car and drive off in it in a matter of minutes before the owner has even realised it's gone.

"We really would urge people to stay with the vehicle when they are de-icing it - and if they do want to leave the engine running - to close the door to make it harder for thieves. Some of these thieves are brazen and if they see an open door of a vehicle and the driver's seat is empty and the engine running they are likely to still have a go at stealing it.

"Ideally, we would encourage people to switch the engine off while they're outside of the vehicle."

Police also want to make sure motorists are prepared for any adverse weather and drive according to the road conditions during wintry weather.

T/Supt Pitt said: "During winter months is always a good idea to be prepared for cold and adverse weather conditions and keep a winter driving kit along with warm clothes and a blanket in the car. It's also advisable to make sure mobile phones are fully charged and leave plenty of time for the journey. Adapt driving to the conditions of the road and leave plenty of space from the car in front and make sure cars are fully de-iced and windscreens and windows clear before starting off."

Items to include in a winter driving kit include: Snow shovel; de-icer; ice scraper; tow rope; emergency warning triangle; hi vis clothing; torch; first aid kit; blanket or travel rug; warm clothing; food and water.

For more information about winter driving condition, visit the Northumbria Police website