Police have warned drivers about the dangers of leaving cars unattended while the windscreen clears after two vehicles were stolen in the north-east.
Cleveland Police posted on Facebook that the cars were taken while their owners were letting them “de-ice” near the towns of Stockton and Eaglescliffe.
A police spokesperson wrote: “We've had reports of 2 cars stolen this morning whilst being left unattended to de-ice in Stockton and Eaglescliffe.
“PLEASE do not leave cars unattended with the keys in. Opportunist thieves are in operation and it only takes a second for someone to steal your car!”
Leaving your car unattended is technically an offence under regulations 98 and 107 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986.
As the law stands, drivers are expected to always be in control of their vehicle while the engine is running - even when they're defrosting the windows.
Failure to be in control can result in fines of up to £40 under the guidelines set out in the Highway Code.
A Metropolitan Police spokesperson told Yahoo News earlier this month there is also a danger of car theft when drivers leave their cars unattended.
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Insurance companies may also refuse to pay out if they find out your car was stolen after you left the keys in the ignition.
“Look after yourself, your family and other road users by clearing your front and rear windscreen of any frost, ice and snow and ensure your side mirrors are clearly visible,” the spokesperson said.
“Never leave your keys in the ignition while your vehicle is unattended, even for a few minutes. Thieves will steal cars that have been left with the engine running to defrost the windows.
“It’s also important to remember that motorists who leave their vehicle unattended with the engine idling to clear frost could potentially receive a fixed penalty notice from the local authority under the Road Vehicle Regulations (1986).
“Stay with your vehicle, make sure you’ve cleared the frost completely, and you’ll be ready to go.”