DESPITE recent police warnings, three cars were stolen in a day after being left unattended with engines running.

The three vehicles were stolen from the Stockton area yesterday (Thursday, December 13) when their drivers left them to defrost.

Police believe opportunist thieves are taking advantage of the frosty weather and have warned the public that leaving their vehicle unattended will render insurance invalid if it is stolen.

Detective Inspector Anne-Marie Salwey urged drivers to stay with their car. She said: “People wouldn’t leave a handbag containing thousands in cash open on a driveway, so why run the risk of leaving a car?

“There is a very real and strong possibility that car insurance claims won’t be upheld in these circumstances. Drivers not only have to deal with the trauma of being a victim of crime but also face the prospect of having to find the funds for a new vehicle.”

Yesterday, a white Vauxhall Van was stolen from Marrick Road at around 8.30am and a silver VW Passat was taken from Sidlaw Road in Billingham at 7.30am. Both vehicles were later recovered by police and two men, aged 20 and 23, have been arrested in connection with the thefts and bailed pending further investigation. A third incident saw a silver Seat Leon stolen from Leeholme Mews, in Wolvision.

Anyone with any information on the reported incidents is asked to contact DI Anne-Marie Salwey on the non-emergency number 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800-555-111.