A PAIR of opportunist thieves stole three cars in one day – after drivers left them to defrost with their engines running.
Police have now warned motorists not to abandon their vehicles when defrosting the car in the mornings because they make easy targets for criminals.
The spate of so-called “frosting” incidents took place across Midlothian on Monday – and finance experts are signalling that victims are unlikely to receive a pay-out from insurers.
It is thought two men may be behind four car thefts this week in which three of the vehicles had been abandoned with their engines running.
A similar ordeal befell ex-Manchester United star Paul Scholes who had his £30,000 car stolen last January after he left the engine running while defrosting it on his driveway.
The 38-year-old former England midfielder had gone back inside his home while ice melted on the windscreen of his Chevrolet Captiva LT 2 Estate.
When he came back out of the house car had gone.
In Midlothian, police are hoping to trace two white men in their early to mid-20s. One has blonde hair and was wearing grey cotton clothing.
A red Toyota Avensis was taken from an address at Cleugh Road, North Middleton, a grey Mercedes E220 from a home at Lindsay Circus, Rosewell, and a black Mercedes A150 from Burnbrae Gardens, Bonnyrigg.
The thieves are also believed to have taken a black Land Rover from Corrie Court, Newtongrange, after its owner dropped keys outside their home.
Inspector James Gray called on motorists to be vigilant and not to leave their cars unattended. “We are also eager to trace the two men who were responsible for taking these four cars on Monday,” he said.
“We believe these cars, particularly the black Land Rover Freelander, are still being used to steal others cars in the area.
“Anyone who has seen any of these cars is asked to contact us immediately.”
And he said: “We are also warning the public to be vigilant and to not leave their cars unattended with the engine running while they are defrosting on cold mornings. Not only is this activity dangerous and risky, it is also illegal.”
A spokesman for the AA said motorists should never be complacent about leaving their engines running outside their homes.
“This is nothing new, but people need to be safe,” he said. “It can even happen in rural areas. Modern cars have got great security but the worst link in the security chain is actually the keys.
“If you leave your keys in the ignition of the car you leave yourself wide open. We always say that the car should be treated like cash – you wouldn’t leave a £10,000 bundle of bank notes sitting on the drive.”
He added: “If you leave your car running, you have failed in your duty of care for your insurance policy.”