One car stolen every five minutes in 'defrost nightmare'

Thieves have a great day as motorists leave cars running to clear icy windscreens

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scraping snow and ice from the...

A car was stolen every five minutes this morning in some areas as drivers left their motors running and unattended to defrost.

The spate of opportunist thefts during today's frosty start was revealed by the Central Motorway Police Group, reports the Birmingham Mail.

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Forces across the country issued warnings to motorists not to de-ice their vehicles by leaving them turned on for several minutes while going back in the house.

Cumbria Constabulary said a van driver in Carlisle who returned to find an empty parking space after leaving the keys in the ignition to clear his windscreen was among drivers to fall victim as it issued the same warning.

And Thames Valley Police, which serves Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, has also reminded motorists to stay with their vehicle while it defrosts.

The Central Motorway Police Group revealed that unattended cars left running were going at a rate of one every five minutes in a tweet.

They wrote: "Seriously!!! That's 6 cars stolen in last 30 mins just because people have left them unattended to defrost. Come on people, don't do it!!"

It comes as the mercury plummeted overnight, with weather forecasters warning people to brace themselves for temperatures to plunge to several minus degrees Celcis.

Research by the AA has revealed that two-fifths of Brit drivers leave it to their car's engine to clear icy screens.

But they are at serious risk of losing their vehicle if they pop back indoors and leave the engine running.

And insurance firms will give victims a cold reception as leaving the keys in an unattended car is excluded from most policies.

The AA also warns against pouring hot water on to screens to clear them of ice as it can risk cracking the glass.

They recommend drivers have de-icer spray and a scraper for the outside of the vehicle.

While the air-conditioning system can be used to clear the interior of mist, motorists must switch off and lock the vehicle if they go back inside their home.

Motorists are also advised to make sure their wipers are switched off this time of year - if the blades freeze to the screen, it can cause damage to the wiper motor when the car is switched on.