A guide to Frosting- how to avoid winter car theft

Frosted Windscreen on a car.

We already have a drivers guide to staying safe in the cold weather, but frosting is a dangerous thing which has become more common in each winter period.

The term doesn’t just refer to whenever frost emerges on your new car or used car purchase during a freezing cold winter morning, although it is related to that. Frosting is a motoring crime which we could see a rapid increase of over the next few months, which is why it helps to be aware of it and how to avoid it.

What is frosting?

‘Frosting’ or ‘frost jacking’ as its also known by refers to the opportunistic act of stealing a car when it has been left alone by its owner to defrost the windscreen.

If you’ve ever been walking or driving in your local neighbourhood in the early winter morning then quite possibly you’ve seen residents run the engine of their parked car so the icy windscreen can be cleared quickly. Often while this is being done the owner of the car may leave it unattended for a period of time to wait inside the house, leaving the key in the ignition.

It’s an act which has caught plenty of the UK’s motorists out in the past. Research from Sainsbury’s Finance has revealed that the number of cases of frosting in Britain each year averages at around 66,000. In more recent years many more motorists that fallen victim to frosting by opportunistic car thieves, with even famous names falling foul.

Earlier this year, for example, the former Manchester United footballer Paul Scholes had his Chevrolet Captiva LTZ stolen outside his home in the early morning. He had left his keys in the ignition with the engine running to melt ice that had formed on his windscreen.

> Frosting is not just bad for a victim because of the loss of their car, but many insurance providers will not pay out for such an act of theft.
> Losing your car when it is unattended and the keys are inside is often specifically excluded from motor insurance policies.
> In the example involving Paul Scholes mentioned before, he himself missed out on an insurance payout.

To make matters worse, it’s possible the police can prosecute motorists who have their car stolen when it’s unattended with the engine running. This is because it contravenes a section of the Highway Code regarding control of the vehicle.

How can I avoid frosting?

> The best way to avoid becoming a victim to the crime frosting is to simply avoid leaving your car unattended with the key in the ignition, regardless of circumstances.
> If your car’s windscreen is icy and you want to clear it quickly then there are other, safer methods besides leaving the engine running.
> Keep a bottle of anti-freeze in your car. Squirt it on the outside of the screen if it’s frozen over in the morning, then use a proper ice scraper to wipe away any excess water or ice crystals.
> Remember never to pour a kettle of boiling hot water over the windows in an attempt to melt any ice. This can easily make things worse as the thermal shock could create cracks in the windscreen.