Criminals raid countryside for 4x4s

Thieves behind a countryside crimewave are stealing Land Rover Defenders and luxury 4×4 vehicles to order, claims rural insurer NFU Mutual.

Latest figures from the insurance company reveal claims for costs resulting from stolen Defender vehicles have risen 14% since the last car rolled off the production line in early 2016.

See also: Land Rover in anti-theft video broken up by thieves

Farmers are finding the iconic vehicles stripped of parts such as bonnets and doors, or stolen altogether as global demand increases, it said.

Thefts of executive cars and luxury 4x4s have also spiked with the insurer reporting a significant rise in the cost of Range Rover theft in the past year.

Shipped abroad

NFU Mutual, which works with the National Vehicle Intelligence Service (NaVCIS), has traced stolen Range Rovers worth more than £75,000 each as far afield as Africa and the Far East.

One of the most recent vehicles to be repatriated by NFU Mutual was a Range Rover Sport insured by the company and worth more than £60,000.

It was seized in Antwerp following an operation co-ordinated by NFU Mutual and NaVCIS.

Another recovery, of two Range Rovers covered with mattresses and worth more than £100,000, was made from a shipping container in Felixstowe.

NFU Mutual agricultural vehicle specialist Clive Harris said thieves were deploying a range of tactics to feed demand for 4 x4s from organised criminal gangs operating around the world.

Farms hardest hit

“While insurance can cover the cost of theft, it does not account for the inconvenience and business interruption experienced,” he said.

“People in rural areas are feeling increasingly vulnerable and farms, which rely on 4x4s for mobility as part their business, are left particularly hard hit.”

NFU data suggests the region with the highest cost of Land Rover Defender thefts last year was the Midlands, followed by the North East and South East.

Mr Harris said: “We’re urging owners to ensure they have adequate security measures in place.”

This could range from using aftermarket mechanical immobilisers such as a steering wheel locks to trackers and Faraday box solutions, which block out signals.

Top tips for securing vehicles

Classic Land Rover Defender

  • Fit a mechanical immobiliser such as an industry accredited steering wheel or pedal lock
  • Fit an accredited alarm for added security and consider adding a tracking or locating device
  • Consider marking component parts using a forensic marking solution or system
  • Keep the vehicle in a lockable building or park in well-lit areas
  • Have the vehicle identification number etched on windows
  • Consider fitting a hidden battery isolation or a fuel cut-off switch
  • Take photographs of features, modifications, damage or repairs which could aid identification
  • Ensure any valuables are removed from the vehicle

Modern 4x4s

  • Keep electronic keys in a Faraday packet or box at night
  • Don’t keep car keys where they can be accessed through a letterbox or window
  • Don’t rely on electronic security – fit a steering wheel or pedal lock
  • Fit an alarm for added security and consider adding a tracking device
  • An additional locating device will assist with early detection and potential recovery
  • Keep the vehicle in a lockable building or park in well-lit areas, which are overlooked
  • Ensure any valuables are removed from the vehicle

(Source: NFU Mutual)

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