Snowjackers leave grandad in the cold

A GRANDFATHER today told how he was the victim of a "snow-jacking" when thieves made off with his 4x4 after he left its engine running.

• Jim Blues

Jim Blues started his Nissan Navara and left it to warm up while he went back inside. Just two minutes later, when the 62-year-old looked outside his Portobello home, he saw the car being driven off.

Police officers later pursued the stolen car after spotting it being driven erratically, but gave up the chase after deciding road conditions would have put other motorists at risk.

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It is the latest in a string of so-called "snow-jackings" across the Capital and prompted fresh warnings from the police never to leave vehicles unattended.

Mr Blues' car was taken from outside his home in New Tower Place at 3pm on Sunday and later found crashed in Braid Hills Road. The plumbing and heating engineer said his insurance company had refused to pay out over the damage, which could total 3000, because he had left the key inside.

He said: "I'd started my car because it had been sitting in the snow. I took out a bag of dog food from my car because it was my grandson's birthday and I was making room to take his push bike round to him.

"The back of the car was only a metre from my door and I went inside for less than two minutes. When I came back, I could see that the car was moving off.

"Later that night, we got a call from the police to say it had been crashed in Braid Hills Road.

"The front end of the car was smashed in and the engine may need replacing. But when I spoke to the insurance company they said they wouldn't pay because the key was inside the car."

The incident was one of a number of recent weather-related vehicle thefts. A 24-year-old man's car was stolen after he got out to remonstrate with youths, who had pelted it with snowballs in Broughton. A second theft took place at around 8.45am on Sunday when a 50-year-old woman was de-icing her Hyundai Getz in Stenhouse Street West. A man in his 20s wearing tracksuit bottoms jumped into the driver's seat and sped off.

A police spokesman said: "Motorists who are de-icing their vehicles should do so with the ignition off and ensure the keys are in their possession. Similarly, if it is necessary to exit your vehicle, park in an appropriate place, switch your engine off and make sure that doors, windows and boots are securely locked."