A MERCEDES was stolen after the owner left the engine running to warm it up in the cold.
Now motorists have been warned not to let thieves cash in on the cold weather, after the car was taken and six more unlocked vehicles were targeted.
The Mercedes had been left with the engine running on a driveway in Derwentwater Avenue, Chester-le-Street,
Chief Inspector Andy Huddleston, head of the Durham Specialist Operations Unit, said: “In order to save a couple of minutes de-icing vehicles, the temptation is for motorists to leave their cars unattended with the engines running, making them vulnerable to opportunist thieves.
“It takes two minutes to de-ice your car, but it can take two seconds for a thief to steal it.
“We are urging the public to take extra care and not give criminals an early Christmas present.”
The Mercedes was stolen on Friday morning.
In East Durham, police are dealing with a series of incidents where cars have been searched by thieves after they were left unlocked.
Detective Sergeant Amanda Howe, of the area’s local priority crime team, said: “We need to stress to people to lock their cars.
“They should also remove their valuables and not leave anything on display, even loose change in the console.”
The latest incident happened between Tuesday night and the following morning in Haswell.
A laptop and child’s scooter were taken from a Vauxhall Corsa in East Villas, between 6.15pm and 8.15am; and a sat nav and mobile phone were stolen from a Vauxhall Zafira, in Kestrel Way, between 5pm and 9am.
Between 7pm on November 23 and 9.45am the following day, cash and a bus pass were snatched from a Hyundai car in Stewart Street, Seaham.
A sat nav and sunglasses were taken from a Volvo in Leechmere Crescent, Seaham, between the morning of November 24, and some time on November 29.
Between November 25 and November 27, a Nissan Juke, on a driveway in Plantation Walk, was targeted and items taken from its glove box. Thieves broke into a Nissan Micra in the same street between 8pm on the Friday and 1pm on the Saturday, although nothing was taken.
Anyone with information about the incidents are asked to contact Durham Police on 0345 60 60 365, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.