Warning: How not to fall victim to thieves stealing cars while they are being de-iced

During this current cold snap opportunist thieves are targeting cars left defrosting on driveways and by the side of the road, according to the AA.

With temperatures as low as -13 degrees last night and thick snow frozen onto windscreens it is taking much longer for drivers to clear their windscreens.

The AA warns that leaving the car running unattended could not only result in the car being stolen but the insurance is likely to be invalidated and it could be against the law.

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The police have already warned of the dangers.

The Central Motorway Police Group tweeted: “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!!”

Some drivers leave the car running and return to the house to keep warm and this is when opportunists strike.

Edmund King, president of the AA, points out: "Keys really are the weakest link in the car security chain, and you should treat them like cash. Leaving your car unattended with the engine running is just offering thieves an early Christmas present. We see cases of ‘frosting’ every year but the current extreme low temperatures may tempt more drivers to leave the car running. It really can be a case of ‘gone in 60 seconds’ if the car is left running.

”Our patrols have also spotted a few ‘tank commanders’ this year – drivers peering out of a small section of windscreen that has been defrosted. This is not only dangerous but illegal.

“Many of the roads out there are horrendous today due to the extreme icy conditions so drivers need to adapt their driving style, slow down and keep a much greater distance.”

Yesterday (11) the AA received 25,000 calls to our breakdown line which is a record for this year so patrols were out in full force.

The AA advises drivers to give themselves more time on frosty mornings to de-ice all the windows using a scraper rather than leaving the engine running and risk having the car stolen.

AA Tips for a clear winter view

-A scraper and de-icer on the outside of your car are still most effective.

-In the car starting the engine, switching on heated rear screen and mirrors and allowing air-conditioned air to circulate to gently warm the glass is the most effective way to clear frosted glass.

-Stay with the car all the time - if you must go back indoors switch off and lock the car.

-Do not drive off until all of the glass is clear.

-Remember not to leave wipers in 'auto' when frost is expected - if wipers are frozen to the glass the wiper motor could be damaged. Don’t try to force frozen wipers off the glass.

-Never use just-boiled water to clear glass – it could crack the glass, freezes quickly and could ice your wipers to the glass.

-Clear all snow off the car, a soft brush is effective – making sure the front grille is clear (otherwise there is risk of the engine overheating). Make sure lights are clean and working.

-Air conditioning isn't only for summer - it will help to dry the air and keep cold glass mist free.

-Don’t use your hands to wipe misted-up windows – you'll leave greasy smears and a diamond ring could scratch the glass. Use a lint-free absorbent cloth if necessary.

-Planning ahead and using a simple plastic windscreen cover the night before can save a lot of time clearing glass when frost or freezing temperatures are forecast.