Police warn drivers not to leave keys in the ignition after car theft

Leaving your keys in the ignition like this could invite car theft as the frost moves in and you may be left uninsured too
Leaving your keys in the ignition like this could invite car theft as the frost moves in and you may be left uninsured too

Police are warning motorists in Dacorum not to leave vehicles unattended with the keys in the ignition while waiting for windscreens to defrost after a car was stolen last week.

Herts Constabulary have issued the warning as the colder weather descends on the borough.

Inspector Paul Lawrence, of the Crime Reduction Unit, said a few extra minutes of warmth indoors is not worth the hassle of losing your car and warned some insurance companies refuse to pay out in such circumstances.

“The weather has been pretty mild so far this year, but colder weather and frost is on the way,” he said.

“Defrosting the car in the mornings isn’t a pleasant task and it’s tempting to leave the car running whilst you go back inside where it’s nice and warm. However, this can be just the opportunity a thief is waiting for, and having your car stolen is even more unpleasant and inconvenient.

“Insurance companies can refuse to pay claims if vehicles are left insecure or keys are left in them, so it could end up ruining your Christmas for those few extra minutes in the warm. Never leave your car unattended with the engine running.”

Police also issued important driving safety tips to motorists as the weather turns:

– ALWAYS ensure your windscreen and other windows are fully de-iced and de-misted before moving off. Driving without clear visibility is not only illegal but puts you, pedestrians and other road users at risk. It’s worth the few minutes it takes to prepare your car properly.

– Ensure your wiper blades are in good condition and make sure you have plenty of washer fluid.

– Slow down – make sure you adjust your driving to the conditions of the road. Sometimes it is about driving under the legal limit. Try to keep steering smooth and avoid braking sharply where possible.

– Check your tyres are correctly inflated and have good tyre tread (and remember the absolute minimum legal limit for cars is 1.6mm).

– Be smart - stay with your vehicle and never leave it unattended with the keys in the ignition, even for a second, when de-icing the windows. Thieves are opportunistic – don’t give them a free ride.

– Register your sat nav – you can register your sat nav and other valuables for free at www.immobilise.com – It helps police return any recovered items to you if they are lost or stolen and serves as a deterrent to potential criminals – as well as helping police to catch those responsible.