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You don’t even need a key! Land Rover Defender thefts reach epic proportions

Huge crime wave is hitting and the classic Land Rover Defender is the number one target

Barely a day goes by without the report of yet another stolen Land Rover Defender somewhere in the UK, and owners are beginning to feel helpless in the face of the onslaught.

The sheer number of crimes involving this particular make leads one security camera company to believe that it’s the work of criminal gangs stealing to order for the export market.

In fact, as the Yorkshire-based CCTV.co.uk company points out, warnings about “keyless crime” surrounding the Defender were publicised as far back as June, yet still they are being stolen in large numbers.

“Virtually every community in the county has been visited by these criminals,” says CCTV.co.uk spokesperson Jonathan Ratcliffe, “And according to official figures, the classic Defender is high on their shopping list.”

Top Ten Most Stolen

Figures published by the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service show the Land Rover Defender as one of the top ten stolen cars nationally, along with the Audi S3 and the Range Rover. But it’s the Defender’s popularity in the wide open spaces of Yorkshire that have made it a target in the region.

The NVCIS has also warned that while the tried-and-test method of stealing the car keys from the hall table and simply driving the car away remains a popular choice among opportunist thieves, organised criminal gangs are increasingly using sophisticated electronic tools to bypass vehicle security systems.

“However, with the humble Defender, you don’t even need the vehicle key – with keys from older vehicles working in door locks and ignitions,” Ratcliffe says. “A friend of ours managed to enter and start a 02 plate Defender with a key from another vehicle – it’s crackers!.”

“You car can quite literally be gone in 60 seconds.”

Stolen to order, the cars are exported an resold in other countries – mostly eastern Europe and Russia, but as far afield as China where a new middle class has abandoned Communism for the visible trappings of material wealth.

Most owners will never see their cars again.

Defending Your Defender

So what can Defender owners do to protect their four-wheeled investments?

“Even though they stopped making the Defender this year, they’re still changing hands for up to £60,000 for the high-end models,” CCTV.co.uk’s Jonathan Ratcliffe says.

“It makes sense, then, to spend a little money to protect your vehicle.”

CCTV.co.uk asked the Police for some straight answers on preventing high-value vehicle crime and they recommended:

  • High-quality steering wheel and gear stick locks
  • Consider a lock cover for the car diagnostics port to prevent keyless theft
  • The best quality alarm system available
  • Park in your garage if you have one
  • Think security every time you leave your vehicle – are doors, windows and sunroof all shut?
  • Consider other hard security measures

“Using your garage is a very good point indeed which many people don’t even consider,” Ratcliffe says. “How many people use theirs for a few hundred pounds worth of garden tools and household items, while a car worth tens of thousands sits unprotected on the drive?”

“They’ll even lie through their teeth to the insurance company that they lock the car away every night,” he continues, “But they know it’s physically impossible because the flymo and a rusty bike with a flat tyre need to be protected more than their thirty grand car!”

It’s the use of CCTV systems which makes the strongest financial sense, Jonathan says.

“Camera technology has improved so much in recent years, the very sight of one protecting your car will be enough to deter even the most determined criminal gang,” he explains.

“Court-ready picture quality day or night means that no-one in their right mind would give it a go.”

While police throughout the UK struggle to catch up with the prestige car thieves, it’s down to owners to protect their vehicles as best they can.

“Your Defender is important to you – defend it!”

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