Waiting for car thieves

Don’t be left car-less this winter by opportunist car thieves. Leaving your motor running outside your home to defrost the windows while you eat breakfast is not a good idea.

In fact, it’s such a bad idea that you might not just lose your car – you could find your insurance disappears as well and then where will you be? No car and possibly no way of replacing it.

Of course, you might be lucky and have the car returned to you by the police, who have done a superb job in finding and recovering it. However, if the thieves have crashed it you may still find yourself well out of pocket.

Now don’t get the wrong idea. We’re not here to nag you; we just want to point out that very often insurers will not pay out on a policy where the car has been left unattended with the keys in the ignition. You could become a double victim: no car, no insurance.

And sadly, if you do manage to replace the car you may well have to pay a hefty increase in premium on your new vehicle.

So how often does this kind of theft happen? Well, let’s give you some examples from around the country.

According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI) the first spell of plummeting temperatures this winter has already seen six cars stolen in a thirty minute spell in the West Midlands.  And in recent winters:

  • Lancashire Police recorded 27 vehicles left this way over just 2 hours, with four of these stolen
  • In a 36 hour period, West Midlands logged 100 unattended cars. Thirteen of these were stolen
  • A criminal gang were jailed after stealing 16 cars across the North West
  • A pair of thieves in Scotland helped themselves to three cars in one day, after drivers had left them to defrost with the engines running
  • Former England midfielder Paul Scholes lost his £30,000 Chevrolet, which had been started and left to defrost on his private drive


Ben Howarth, ABI’s Policy Adviser, Motor and Liability, said:
“No one wants to freeze while defrosting their car. But, tempting though it is in the cold weather, never leave your vehicle with the engine running to warm up while you nip back inside, even if only for a few minutes. Stay with your car while it warms up, so it is you who drives away in it, and not a thief.”

Of course, it’s not always cold winter mornings when people leave their car unattended with keys in the ignition. Have you ever popped into a shop or a friend’s house for a couple of minutes. Or maybe jumped out to post a letter?

Car thieves earn their living by watching out for careless people who don’t bother to lock their cars. Their latest trick, by the way, is to use radio jammers to block signals from remote control keys, letting you walk off thinking your car is safely locked when in reality it is open to the world. Always check the doors are locked before you walk away.

Beware – be aware. Car thieves are always about. Don’t make it easy for them.