Tracker, who sells car tracking systems, has revealed that long winter nights provide thieves with ideal cover for car crime.
As we prepare to put the clocks back, Tracker has noticed that the extra hours of darkness will give car thieves more time to break into and steal our cars. Naturally, extra caution is being advised.
News of the higher rate of car crime comes from Tracker's own figures, showing that car recoveries (of those fitted with Tracker devices) increase by 20 percent in the winter.
Stuart Chapman, Tracker's Police Relationships Manager, commented: "In 2010, 84 percent of all the stolen cars recovered by Tracker were taken using the owner's keys and this danger increases during the winter.
"Added to this, on frosty mornings many people leave their car unattended with the engine on to defrost the windscreen, making their cars a prime target for thieves. We urge motorists to keep their keys safe at all times and think twice to avoid 'frost jackers'."
The message we can take from that is an important one - and one that anyone with half a nugget of common sense should already know: KEEP YOUR KEYS WITH YOU OR IN A SAFE PLACE.
Anyway, Tracker has also provided a few handy hints to get you, and your car, safely through the long winter darkness:
• Never leave the keys in the ignition, even if you are just stopping quickly.
• Never leave your car running unattended when de-icing.
• Always lock and secure your vehicle.
• Don't leave belongings on show, lock them in the boot or take them with you.
• Fit a stereo with removable front panel and take it with you when you leave the car. Mark it with your vehicle registration.
• Never leave car documents or spare keys inside the car – this only makes it easier for thieves to sell it on.
• Keep doors locked and windows up when driving.
• Park in busy or well-lit and attended car parks near CCTV cameras.
• If you have a garage, use it to park your car.
• At home, don't keep keys in a place where they can be seen or accessed from outside.
Follow the above tips and mix in some common sense and your car will remain safely in your possession.