Car owners in Belfast were dealt an icy blow recently as six cars were stolen in a 90-minute period after owners left them to defrost unattended with the engines running.
When confronted with a snow-covered car, a motorist's natural reaction is to fire up the engine, crank the heaters up to 11 and retreat to the comfort of a warm house. But this behaviour has led to an increase in opportunistic theft dubbed "frost jacking"– where criminals scour icy roads in the morning, hunting for a running car with no owner.
Stolen car recovery expert Tracker has noticed a spike in this criminal activity during cold snaps. "Our stolen vehicle intelligence shows that thieves look out for cars on frosty mornings, shopping around for the most popular makes and models, as temperatures start to drop," explains Tracker's police relationships manager Stuart Chapman.
Chapman added, "Modern cars use inbuilt security that makes it more difficult to steal them without the keys, so every year thieves exploit the cold snap to target car owners who take the risk on frosty mornings."
The Met Office warned motorists of a further wintry storm over the weekend, advising drivers to only make a journey if absolutely necessary. The mercury is set to drop to a low of -6C with blanket snow predicted for most of the UK.