Defender thefts have been on the up since Defender production stopped.
Back in April, NFU Mutual revealed that costs for theft of Defender vehicles rose to £1.8 million in 2015, an increase of 8 per cent since 2014. Since production discontinued in January the iconic off-roader has become a prime target for thieves. The North East is the highest claiming region with NFU Mutual’s customer insurance claims for stolen Defenders reaching a whopping £760,000.
One such victim was a 75-year-old retired farmer from Spalding in Lincolnshire. Chris Clark woke up one morning to find the wire that runs under his 2014 Defender had been cut in an attempt to disarm the alarm, and that the bolts from the door hinges were lying on the ground.
Chris takes up the story: “I had got up at 1.15am to make a cuppa and I think I must have disturbed them. Unfortunately the Defender is too tall to fit in the garage so it is parked under the car port with a metal barrier behind it, which is attached the garage. I guess that wasn’t going to stop them – they have ways and means of stealing anything, whatever measures you put in place.
“We’ve now upped the security to the front of the farm, but it’s frightening – I certainly didn’t sleep well the following night. They caused £1000’s worth of damage to the bodywork and the wiring system, which minus the excess I managed to claim off my insurance luckily. With the Defender going out of production, it’s only going to get worse – there have already been a few cases in my area. When I was a boy we never had problems like this – we used to leave keys to all the farm machinery in the ignition.”
LRM reader Chris asked us to print his experi`ence as a warning to other Defender owners to be vigilant, to keep their vehicles in a garage or a secure well-lit area and increase security.
It’s important to highlight that it is not just farms being targeted, with thefts also happening in city centres. Police believe that some of the thefts are linked to criminal gangs with contacts in the US and Eastern Europe, with so many of the vehicles being stolen and exported out of the country.
With the models transition into a modern classic causing values to rise, this surge in crime isn’t expected to slow down. Both the police and NFU Mutual are advising owners to have adequate security measures in place and consider fitting a Thatcham approved steering or pedal lock and/or tracking device, as well mark components with a forensic solution, have the vehicle identification number etched on the windows, and fit a hidden battery isolation or a fuel cut-off switch.