The Association of British Insurers, the trade body of car insurance companies within the UK, has recently issued a warning to motorists that leaving a vehicle to warm up, unattended in cold weather, is an open invitation for ice bandits to steal it.
The motor car insurance trade body stated that thieves are increasing their targeting of unattended cars left to warm up since the UK weather began to turn cold and snowy.
The arrival of colder weather inevitably leads to an increase in the number of motor vehicles stolen by thieves who keep their eyes peeled for unattended cars, with the engine left idling, to facilitate a quicker defrost time. During January of last year’s cold snap, police in Lancashire recorded 27 instances of unattended, but running, motor vehicles over a two hour time period. And in Greater Manchester, four separate cars had been left unattended while they heated up. Moreover, just last year, a gang of criminals known as the Ice Bandits, who specialised in car theft, were slapped with prison sentences.
As if the thought of losing your car to opportunistic thieves is not enough of a deterrent to leaving your motor vehicle unattended whilst the keys are in the ignition, many car insurance companies will interpret such an occurrence as a lack of reasonable care upon the part of the owner. As a result, many car theft claims submitted to insurers are invalidated if it is found that the owner left the car running with the keys in the ignition.
ABI General Insurance and Health’s director, Nick Starling, stated that while the discomfort of being in the freezing cold whilst the car defrosts is something that most people tend to avoid, leaving a vehicle’s engine running while you come in from the cold is still much too risky and dangerous a behaviour, even if it’s only for a moment or two.
As it only takes a few seconds for car thieves to strike, says Mr Starling, in order to prevent a thief driving off in your nice warm car, stay with it while it heats up.