‘Countryside crime wave’ sees expensive Land Rover Defenders targeted by car gang criminals
- Land Rover thefts are up 14 per cent according to insurance companies
- Insurers have paid out for almost 500 stolen Land Rover Defenders since 2016
- Farmers are finding their 4x4s without bonnets and doors or gone altogether
Land Rover Defenders are increasingly being targeted by criminals as part of a ‘countryside crime wave’, according to an insurer.
Farmers and country home owners have been urged to ramp up security measures to protect their Defenders and luxury 4x4s against organised gangs, who often hack into their keyless systems.
Rural insurer NFU Mutual said Land Rover Defenders are being specifically targeted.
Insurers have revealed that they have paid out over 500 claims for stolen Land Rover Defenders since 2016
The off-road vehicles, said to be the Queen’s favourite, have become increasingly sought after since the last of them rolled off the production lines in Solihull more than two years ago.
The latest figures from NFU Mutual show it now pays out 14 per cent more in claims for stolen and damaged Defenders than it did before production stopped in early 2016.
The firm said it has paid out claims for almost 500 stolen Defenders since then.
The region with the highest cost of Land Rover Defender thefts was the Midlands, followed by the North East and South East, according to the insurer.
Farmers are finding the cars stripped of parts such as bonnets and doors, or stolen altogether.
Stealing executive cars and luxury 4x4s has also increased with the insurer reporting a significant rise in the cost of Range Rover theft in the past year.
NFU Mutual, which works with the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service, said it had traced stolen Range Rovers worth more than £75,000 to as far afield as Africa and the Middle East.
Two Range Rovers covered with mattresses and worth more than £100,000 were recently recovered from a shipping container in Felixstowe, Suffolk.
Farmers and country home owners have been urged to ramp up security measures to protect their Defenders and luxury 4x4s against organised gangs, who often hack into their keyless systems
The findings come amid a spike in car thefts across the country, with police blaming a rise in organised gangs exporting vehicles for profit, as well as the increasing popularity of keyless systems, which can be hacked into by thieves using devices that are widely available on the internet.
According to figures from the Office for National Statistics last month, 89,000 vehicles were stolen in 2017 in England and Wales – the equivalent of ten every hour. This equates to a 56 per cent rise in 12 months.
The ONS said that in almost half of thefts the criminals are ‘entering the vehicle through an unlocked door’.
Clive Harris, agricultural vehicle specialist at NFU Mutual, said: ‘Thieves are deploying a range of tactics to feed demand for classic and modern 4x4s from organised criminal gangs operating around the world.
‘People in rural areas are feeling increasingly vulnerable and farms, which rely on 4x4s for mobility as part of their business, are left particularly hard hit. We’re urging owners to ensure they have adequate security measures in place.’
Stealing executive cars and luxury 4x4s has also increased with the insurer reporting a significant rise in the cost of Range Rover theft in the past year
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