The Land Rover Defender is a major target for thieves who can break them up within hours of getting their hands on them, say insurers.
The UK’s leading rural insurer is urging farmers and other Land Rover Defender owners to take action to safeguard their iconic vehicles against clued-up thieves.
NFU Mutual is urging Defender owners to adopt a combination of traditional and technological security measures as claims data from the insurer shows that Defender theft cost £2.4 million in 2022.
Though a very slight drop from 2021, when following a lockdown lull Defender theft cost a total of £2.6 million, the claims data reveals that organised thieves continue to target the countryside icons. Indications from this year’s claims data suggest that the cost of Defender theft is set to increase again in 2023.
As well as stealing vehicles, NFU Mutual frequently receives reports that Land Rover Defenders are being stripped for their valuable parts.
Police and NFU Mutual experts working on recovery have traced vehicles as far afield as Africa and Eastern Europe, and found several ‘chop shops’ – fields full of half-dismantled Defenders who’s parts are being sold on the illicit market.
With the enduring appeal of the vehicles to thieves showing no signs of wavering, NFU Mutual is sharing advice on how Defender owners can protect their iconic cars.
Andrew Chalk, car insurance specialist at NFU Mutual, said, “We’ve been insuring Defenders since they first rolled onto British farms, and sadly we’ve seen a significant spike in thefts in recent years, with opportunistic thieves, joyriders and organised criminal gangs all targeting the iconic vehicles.
“Defenders have wide and enduring appeal, both as a trusty workhorse and an icon of British motoring, making them coveted collectors’ pieces. Unfortunately, this also means that their value and the value of their parts remains high, making them a repeat target for thieves after whole vehicles or individual parts.
“We want to help owners defend their Defenders by sharing practical device on how to safeguard their treasured vehicle. NFU Mutual also works with the National Rural Crime Unit to help track down thieves and trace stolen vehicles, returning them to their owners where possible. But we know prevention is best wherever possible, so we urge farmers and other Defender owners to take our advice below.”
NFU Mutual has also partnered with Scorpion Track to offer customers discounts of over 50% on sophisticated tracking and anti-theft devices for their vehicles.
DC Chris Piggott of the National Construction and Agri Thefts Team, which sits within the National Rural Crime Unit of the police, added, “Part of the charm of classic Defender is also what makes them vulnerable to theft, as they are not fitted with modern security systems – and their charm also drives up their value, making them an attractive target for thieves.
“In fact, since production was stopped on the classic Defender model, their parts have quadrupled in value.
“It is therefore worth doing all you can to fortify your vehicle, using a combination of measures such as immobilisers and tracking devices as well as traditional methods like pedal and steering wheel locks.
“Sadly, it’s not uncommon to find vehicles which have been stripped for parts in situ, or very nearby, but again, slowing thieves down can effectively stop them and good site security can go a long way to protecting your Defender.”