land rover defender© Rex/ Shutterstock

Owners of Land Rover Defenders are being urged to increase security and be vigilant amid reports of a sharp rise in thefts of the iconic vehicle.

The last Land Rover Defender rolled off the production line on 29 January, which could explain why thieves have been targeting them, say police.

Police forces across the UK have reported seeing increases in thefts of “sought after” Defenders both in urban and rural areas since the start of 2016.

See also: A nostalgic drive in the retiring Land Rover Defender

Sergeant Nick Hill, based in Stokesley, of North Yorkshire Police, said organised gangs of criminals had been targeting Land Rover Defenders in the county.

He said: “It appears an organised group of criminals is specifically targeting this make and model of vehicle.

“Of greatest concern to us is that it is evident these thieves have knowledge of this particular vehicle’s factory-fitted security and electrical systems.”

However rural insurer NFU Mutual said thefts of Defenders had been on the rise over the last 12 months, with parts of vehicles also being removed and stolen.

Across the UK, Land Rover Defender theft claims cost the insurer £1.8m in 2015, an increase of 8% since 2014. 

Latest figures from the insurer reveal that claims costs for theft of Defenders rose by 69% to £760,000 from 2014 to 2015 in the North East.

Clive Harris, agricultural vehicle specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “I urge Land Rover Defender owners to be vigilant and be on their guard.

“Owners should ensure they have adequate security measures in place and consider fitting an after-market approved immobiliser and a tracking device if possible.

“When not in use, Defenders should be parked in a garage or a secure area which is well lit if possible.

“Never leave keys in the ignition and keep keys out of sight at home and when out in public areas; it’s essential that easy opportunities are taken away from thieves.”

Top tips for securing your Land Rover Defender

  • Fit a mechanical immobiliser, eg Thatcham-approved steering or pedal lock
  • Fit an alarm for added security and consider adding a tracking device
  • Mark component parts with a forensic marking solution or system
  • Keep the vehicle in a lockable building or park in well-lit areas
  • Etch the vehicle identification number on windows
  • Fit a hidden battery isolation or a fuel cut-off switch