Thefts of Land Rover Defenders are on the rise as the model and its parts become in higher demand worldwide.
With the model having ceased production in January last year, appetite and values for the popular off-roader are soaring, according to a number of police authorities which are warning owners to take precautions.
Andy Barr, head of police liaison at car-tracking firm Tracker said: “We have seen an increase in Defender thefts recently. We think it’s due to a lack in availability of the vehicle.
“They are often exported fully assembled or as parts - and these sorts of vehicles can be disassembled very quickly.”
He added: “A lot of these thieves are in organised gangs who are stealing Defenders to order.”
West Yorkshire Police is the latest authority to report a rise in stolen Defenders, confirming that 530 had been taken in the area in the last five years. Last year, 120 were taken. Of that 530, just 139 have been recovered.
Defender owners have been warned to avoid sharing information on social media. Talking to the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, a police spokesman said: “Social media is brilliant for finding out information about events, sourcing hints, tips and advice as well as connecting with other enthusiasts.
“However there can be a downside, with many people sharing their whereabouts on a regular basis. Whilst there is nothing wrong with sharing when you’re on holiday, for instance, it does let would-be car thieves know that our vehicles are unattended.”
Autocar first reported a rise in Defender thefts in April last year, after it was claimed that there had been a 69% increase in models being stolen in North Yorkshire following the end of production. According to these latest reports, the trend only seems to be intensifying as time goes on.
Last week, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) itself was targeted by thieves. Criminals stole an estimated £3 million worth of engines from its Solihull plant in a matter of minutes using a stolen heavy-goods vehicle, according to reports.
A JLR spokesman said: “We can confirm that we are working closely with West Midlands Police to investigate the theft of engines from the Solihull manufacturing plant. A reward is on offer to anyone who has information which leads to the successful recovery of these engines.