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Ice thieves leaving motorists out in the cold this winter

Motorists leaving their cars to defrost and warm up this winter risk being left out in the cold as thieves are targeting vehicles left unattended in this way warns the ABI. The ABI is warning motorists to brave the cold and stay with their vehicle while it warms up.

Nearly half of motorists (47%)1. admit to leaving their car unattended on frosty mornings while it warms up. Last year the cold weather brought a surge in in vehicles stolen by thieves on the prowl for vehicles left unattended with keys in the ignition with the engine running to defrost:

• Lancashire police logged 27 unattended vehicles left this way over just two hours. In one morning four cars were stolen this way in Greater Manchester.
• Last winter West Midlands Police recorded the thefts of nearly 100 cars that had been left unattended while they warmed up. In one 36 hour period the police force dealt with 13 cars stolen this way.
• In one day, five unattended cars were stolen this way in south Yorkshire.
• A gang of car thieves, known as The Ice Bandits, were jailed after stealing sixteen cars across the north west.

Leaving your vehicle unattended with the keys in the ignition could be seen as not taking reasonable care, and might invalidate any insurance claim if your vehicle is stolen in this way.

Nick Starling, the ABI's Director of General Insurance, said:

"No one wants to freeze while defrosting their car. But tempting though it is in cold weather, never leave your vehicle with the engine running to warm up while you nip back inside, even if it is only for a couple of minutes, as it only takes seconds for thieves to strike. Stay with your vehicle while it warms up, so that you drive away in a warm car, not a thief."

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Last updated 01/07/2016