LOCK it or lose it - that's the message from West Midlands Police as drivers are warned to take care of their vehicles during frosty mornings.

With temperatures set to plummet below zero, officers are reminding motorists not to leave the engine running while defrosting their cars.

Last winter, 48 cars were stolen from driveways while owners popped inside, leaving them to warm up outside their homes.

Andy Gregory, the forces' crime reduction officer, said: "It may be surprising but we continue to see people leaving their cars with the keys in on their drives on icy mornings. It takes an opportunistic thief just seconds to jump into a vehicle and drive it off so it really isn’t worth the risk.

"Car security has a come a long way but by leaving keys in the car and the engine running it couldn’t be easier for someone to steal it.

"Sometimes people think they are being security conscious by locking the door of the car with a spare set of keys, while leaving the other set in the ignition.

"However thieves will quickly and happily smash a window in order to drive away in your vehicle."

He added that in addition to the loss of a car, insurance companies will often refuse to pay out when vehicles have been stolen in this way, adding to the stress.

Police are advising motorists to clear windscreens with de-icer and a scraper before sitting in the vehicle while the heater de-mists the windscreen.

Suspicious behaviour should be reported to police by calling 101.

Anyone who witnesses a crime being committed should call 999.