Rural drivers warned of spike in thefts with popular vehicle targeted

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Thefts of Land Rover Defenders increased by 34 percent in 2021 after a lockdown lull in 2020, with data suggesting thefts will increase further this year. Iconic vehicles in rural areas are being targeted by criminals and organised gangs who also dismantle them for parts.

New claims data shows that Defender theft from rural homes, farms and other businesses is set to increase again this year.

The research, from NFU Mutual, found that the cost of thefts of the Land Rover models has rocketed to 87 percent.

Around £2.6million in cars and parts are being stolen from countryside communities and businesses, according to the data.

Land Rovers are being targeted because of their iconic status by opportunistic thieves and organised criminal gangs. 

Rebecca Davidson, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, said the company had been insuring the luxury vehicles since they first appeared on British farms.

She added: “From trusted farm vehicles to coveted collectors’ pieces, Defenders have universal appeal. 

“With older models retaining their vintage value and newer used cars soaring in price, thieves are scouring the countryside for Land Rovers, as well as dismantling them for parts. 

“We know that when prices go up, thieves are quick to cash in and the decrease in rural theft that we saw over lockdown is well and truly over.  

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“At NFU Mutual, we will continue to protect our customers and their communities by working closely with the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS), to help track down thieves and recover stolen vehicles. 

“But prevention is best wherever possible, so we’re urging the rural community to take steps to protect their vehicles.” 

Stephen Murgatroyd from St Agnes in Cornwall was a victim of such a crime, having his Defender stolen from his driveway after thieves managed to bypass an alarm and steering lock.

The vehicle was later used by the criminals in an attempted cashpoint raid.

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He only realised that his car had been taken when a police officer phoned him to say it had been discovered elsewhere.

The 65-year-old said: “Where I usually park, it would have been hidden by trees, but I had left it further down the driveway as I had been painting the house that week, so the thieves would have seen it from the road.  

“I couldn’t believe it. I don’t know how they managed to do it without disturbing us or any of our neighbours.” 

Stephen said his friend told him that it wasn’t the first to be taken and there had been other attempted thefts of Defenders on the same night.  

He later retrieved the Land Rover after it was abandoned by thieves, finding his toolbox and other possessions from the vehicle dumped in a hedge just 400 yards from his house.

Stephen added: “That was what hurt me more than anything. We were burgled a number of years ago and that same emotion came back. 

“It’s very unpleasant and can have such an impact on your life, but the thieves don’t think about that.” 

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