Rural crime special report: Region remains second worst in country for theft of Land Rover Defenders

LAND ROVER Defenders and other 4x4s are being stolen to order in a countryside crime wave, a leading rural insurer has warned.

The cost of claims for the theft of Defenders has risen by 14 per cent since production ceased in early 2016, increasing the value of second-hand vehicles and parts, NFU Mutual has said.

Farmers, many of whom rely on the 4x4 to tend to livestock, are finding their vehicles stripped of parts such as bonnets and doors, or stolen altogether as demand from across the globe increases.

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While the picture improved slightly in Yorkshire and the North East last year, it remained the second-worst-hit region, after the Midlands.

West Yorkshire was particularly badly hit, accounting for one-twelfth of the cost of all claims in England.

NFU Mutual is now urging farmers and country home owners to ramp up security measures as organised criminal gangs scour the countryside for the vehicles.

Clive Harris, agricultural vehicle specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “Whether they’re compromising keyless technology or dismantling Defenders, thieves are deploying a range of tactics to feed demand for classic and modern 4x4s from organised criminal gangs operating around the world.

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

“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.

“We’re urging owners to ensure they have adequate security measures in place which can range from using aftermarket mechanical immobilisers such as a steering wheel locks to trackers and faraday box solutions, which block out signals.”

NFU Mutual, working with the National Vehicle Intelligence Service (NaVCIS), has traced stolen Range Rovers worth up to £75,000 each as far afield as Africa and the Far East.In one case, two Range Rovers covered with mattresses were recovered from a shipping container in Felixstowe.