Improvements in car security are forcing villains to come up with ever more creative ways of getting their hands on your car keys. National newspapers, of course, provide a rich seam of new ideas for such alternative entrepreneurs.

The latest scam, according to a widely circulated email highlighted by The Daily Telegraph, involves attaching notes or leaflets to parked cars’ rear windscreens.

The idea, put simply, is that drivers fail to notice the offending paperwork before starting the engine, then jump out to remove it – leaving the keys in the ignition. A loitering person nearby (possibly hooded) then leaps into the driver’s seat and tears off at top speed.

“Never heard of it. Could be just an urban legend,” noted a Metropolitan Police spokesman, pouring distinctly cool water on a previously promising story.

“Drivers should be aware of the potential scam,” warned the Institute of Advanced Motorists.

“Great idea, thanks,” said the Institute of Advanced Carjacking.

“My advice would be to think like a thief,” the Met’s Kevin Delaney told the Telegraph. “Just because you’ve stored [Christmas presents] out of sight in the boot, doesn’t mean someone didn’t spot you putting them there. If you don’t like the look of an area or the people hanging around, move on somewhere else. If things don’t look right, go away and have a coffee or seek advice.”

Doing something like the opposite of Crimewatch’s “sleep tight and don’t have nightmares” routine, Delaney warns: “Just because there isn’t a note on your rear window, don’t assume you’re safe.

“Thieves are out there 24/7 in the run-up to Christmas,” he claims, urging us even-handedly to remember that: “It’s their Christmas too!”

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