Motorists risk their vehicles being stolen if they leave them running and unattended while their windscreens defrost.

The warning has been issued by the tri-force Road Policing Unit (RPU) for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire, as overnight temperatures continue to dip below zero.

PC Grant Duke, from the RPU, said: “No-one looks forward to defrosting their windscreen on a cold morning but everyone must stay with their vehicle while they do so. If you leave your vehicle running and unattended, you make it an easy target for criminals. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous individuals out there who will be on the look-out for these opportunities on icy mornings.”

It is also important that motorists defrost their windscreens fully before setting out on a journey. A frozen or partially defrosted windscreen makes it difficult to see properly, putting lives at risk.

Motorists caught driving with obscured vision can receive a £100 fine and three penalty points for careless driving. In more serious cases, or those that are contested in court, motorists face a maximum fine of £5,000, up to nine penalty points and could be banned from driving.

PC Duke added: “Defrosting a windscreen takes time and you may be tempted to set off before it has fully cleared. This is really dangerous because your vision is obscured and you could be involved in a collision. Please make sure your windscreen has completely defrosted before starting your journey. Even if it means you are running behind, it is always better to arrive late than never at all.”

When defrosting a windscreen, please follow these simple steps:

  • Check the windscreen wipers are switched off before starting the ignition. Leaving them running when a windscreen is frozen can cause damage.
  • Start the engine and use the warm air blower on the windscreen.
  • Remove any snow from the vehicle.
  • Use a scraper and de-icer to remove ice from the windows. Avoid using boiling water which can cause windscreens to crack.
  • Stay with running vehicles while they defrost.

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