Police in Dubai are warning drivers not to leave their vehicles unattended while the engine is running as doing so leaves them an easy target for thieves.
Car thefts increase over the summer period as more people leave their vehicles on to keep cool while they run small errands. In 2011, 32 cars left with their engines running were stolen. This year seven vehicles have already been stolen in this way, even before the hottest months are yet to arrive.
Brigadier Khalil Al Mansouri, the head of the investigations department, said that the majority of the thefts occurred outside petrol stations, fast food shops and mosques. Such thefts were also more frequent in areas where criminals found it easy to monitor the cars - such as parking spots next to benches.
Brig Al Mansouri said that such thefts were partly caused by owners' negligence and put a strain on police resources. He also warned that cars stolen in this way could then be used in more serious crimes, such as armed robberies.
"I urge the public to be more cautious and not leave their cars open or leave valuables inside their cars," he said, adding that several awareness campaigns aimed at the public appeared to be having little effect.
"This trend increases during summer as people tend to think that nothing is going to happen in such a short while," said Colonel Jamal Al Jallaf, deputy head of CID for administrative and monitoring affairs. "But what they do not realise is that there is someone waiting to drive off with their car."