IT has been driven by the Queen, Churchill and by James Bond ‐ but it’s now over two years since production of one of Britain’s best‐loved vehicles came to an end after 68 years.
As well as its rugged and utilitarian looks and exceptional off‐road ability so loved by the farming community, the Land Rover Defender has always had a popular worldwide following amongst enthusiasts. With really nothing comparable now on the market the popularity of the Land Rover Defender has taken a more sinister turn.
Thefts of Land Rover Defenders are on the rise as the model and its parts become in higher demand worldwide, such is the warning from FUW Insurance Services Ltd.
“With the model no longer in production, appetite and values for the popular off‐roader are soaring, according to a number of police authorities which are warning owners to take precautions. The North of England appears to be the most vulnerable area with over 530 Defenders stolen in Yorkshire in the last five years ‐ but that does not make us immune to Land Rover theft in Wales. Autocar Magazine also reported a 69 per cent increase in Defender thefts last year,” said FUW Insurance Services Ltd. compliance director, Roger Van Praet (pictured above).
Whilst there are some opportunist thefts, most of these vehicles are stolen to order by organised gangs, warned Mr Van Praet.
“The simplicity of construction means a Defender can
be dis‐assembled into a kit of parts in less than an hour, shipped in a container and is effectively untraceable.
“Even a work weary off‐farm Defender has a market and is vulnerable. Never the most secure of vehicles, Land Rover Defender owners should be vigilant and be on their guard. Owners should ensure they have adequate security measures in place and consider fitting an after‐market approved immobiliser and a tracking device if possible,” he added.
When not in use Defenders should be parked in a garage or a secure area which is well lit if possible. Never leave keys in the ignition and keep keys out of sight at home and when out in public areas; it’s essential that easy
opportunities are taken away from thieves.
“A further effect of the increased ‘interest’ in Defenders
is that vehicle values are increasing. Whilst it is unusual and encouraging to know your vehicle is not depreciating as rapidly as usual, this has presented some insurance issues.
“Insurance settlements following theft or accident total loss are based on ‘Market Value’ OR ‘the value declared at inception of cover’ ‐ whichever is the lower. A vehicle placed on cover a number of years ago could well be worth several thousand pounds more by today.
“It is important to review all your vehicle cover and values annually, particularly Land Rovers, Tractors and ATVs. Talk to you local FUW Insurance Services Account Executive for expert advice,” said Mr Van Praet.
Wherever possible, take heed of the following advice, which applies equally to any vehicle, ATV, even tractors:
* NEVER leave keys in the ignition, nor under the seat or anywhere else they might easily be found
* Fit a mechanical immobiliser such as a Thatcham approved steering or pedal lock
* Fit an alarm for added security and consider adding a tracking device
* Thieves will target component parts so consider marking them using a forensic marking solution or system
* Keep the vehicle in a lockable building or park in well‐lit areas, which are overlooked
* Have the vehicle identification number etched on windows
* Consider fitting a hidden battery isolation or a fuel cut‐off switch
* Take photographs of your vehicles, including unusual features, modifications, damage or repairs which could aid identification if stolen
* Ensure any valuables are removed from the vehicle, including satnavs