Despite a headline-worthy 40 percent rise in car theft over the past five years, nearly 1 in 2 motorists admit they still leave their cars running unattended on frosty mornings to warm them up.
Car security firm Tracker, which uncovered the shock statistic, is thus warning motorists to be extra vigilant and keep their wits about them this winter.
“December and January are peak months for thefts, as it’s when we typically experience harsh frosty mornings,” says Clive Wain, Head of Police Liaison at Tracker.
“Whilst it is tempting to leave your car running with the keys in the ignition on frosty cold mornings, experience tells us it’s not a wise move.
“Not only does it make your car an easy target for opportunistic thieves, few insurers will pay out if you haven’t taken reasonable care to prevent your car from being stolen.”
This latter point is worth underlining. It may seem convenient to leave your car running unattended, but you could be left seriously out of pocket if thieves pounce.
The company has outlined some measures to protect yourself from winter car theft and other crimes. While the obvious one of not leaving your car running unattended to defrost is very winter-specific, many are relevant year-round.
Firstly, don’t keep your keys in a place where they can be easily accessed. A key in plain sight is a broken house window away from being in the ignition.
While Wain references Christmas shopping, it’s general all-year-round good practice to not leave any belongings on show. The more expensive the item sat on your dash or in view, the higher the temptation is for thieves to bust in and make merry.
Be selective with your choice of parking spots. A well-lit, well-used multi-storey is probably better than Carjack Alley. If you have a garage, clear the clutter and use it for its purpose – safely storing your car.
Should the worst happen and thieves do get behind the wheel of your car, their life will be made much easier if you’ve left your car’s registration documents and spare keys in the glovebox. Therefore, be sure to store it all away in a safe and memorable place at home.
Back on-message, though. The winter months are a hot spot for car crime so it’s worth getting into good habits.
“Drivers should therefore never leave their cars vulnerable, but especially now when thieves are looking to exploit the change in weather. Taking simple but effective precautions will reduce the risk of your car or its contents from being stolen this Christmas.”