Merseyside Police has warned members of the public to not leave their cars open with keys in on the cold mornings, after a number of cars were stolen in the Knowsley area.
Police want people to take extra care with their car keys to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of car crime.
A handful of residents in the Prescot and Whiston area have had their cars stolen, many leaving the cars open with engines running whilst popping into nearby shops early in the morning.
Take extra care
Neighbourhood officers are urging people to take extra care with their keys, and to ensure that cars are not left unlocked, either when leaving the car for a minute, or defrosting it as the colder weather approaches.
Acting Neighbourhood Chief Inspector Shaun Holland said: "Leaving the engine on, and the car door open can make you easy prey for unscrupulous thieves. Criminals know that drivers leave their cars unattended to defrost and warm up, or while they pop back indoors, or into a shop as was the case here.
"Car thieves are sometimes out and about very early in the mornings, looking for easy pickings. Your car sitting there unattended and open, amidst plumes of exhaust smoke, is a easy target. Please do also remember that should your car be stolen, your insurance company will take a dim view of you leaving the keys in the ignition. Don't make it easy for the thieves and be extra vigilant - if you do see anything suspicious, report it to the police."
An offence of "quitting"
Leaving your engine running whilst you are not in the car is actually an offence of "quitting" under the Road Traffic Act, which is a summary offence.
Police are urging residents to take extra care when defrosting cars - and not to leave the engine running. Officers also reminded residents that in adverse weather conditions to drive carefully, watch your speed and keep a safe distance from the car in front.
Police advice is also to check your tyres and water levels, and ensure that your vehicle is roadworthy before setting out. Clear your windscreen and car windows to make sure you can see clearly and, if the weather worsens, only travel if your journey is necessary.