The Metropolitan Police recorded 7376 thefts of Land Rovers in London between the beginning of 2019 and the end of January 2022. That’s an average of over 2000 stolen Land Rovers in the capital every year.
Overall thefts of 4x4s and SUVs declined during lockdown, but grew again at the end of 2021. The number of recoveries also followed the patterns created by lockdown.
Although many vehicles were lost for good, the data shows that many are recovered by police. In 2021, Metropolitan Police recovered 1537 stolen Land Rovers.
Throughout the period, most days saw multiple Land Rovers recovered. For example in January 2021, one of the busiest months, 147 stolen Land Rovers were retrieved by police – an average of nearly five per day.
What the numbers don’t say
The data, released to LRO as part of a Freedom of Information request, did not include model type, for reasons of confidentiality. In most cases, the model year for each stolen vehicle was not recorded.
It also revealed potential inadequacies in the logging of data. In particular, only 18% of stolen Land Rovers were categorised as neither 4x4s nor SUVs, making it difficult to compare theft statistics by vehicle type.
The true scale of the thefts is likely to be higher, warns Dr Ken German, a vehicle crime consultant and former officer in the Met’s stolen car squad. ‘The theft figures the Met quote unfortunately do not take into consideration whether the car was taken in a burglary or not. If it was taken in a burglary then it’s shown as a theft of property (namely a car taken in a burglary), and not as theft of a car.
‘Also, if the car had been stripped of its parts it would be shown as a theft from and not of a car, which is likely still in situ with its owner – albeit just a shell; if parts are stolen from a car, it would not be logged as a stolen car.’
‘Almost frenetic’ demand for stolen parts
Many Defenders are stolen to be stripped for parts by so-called ‘chop shops’.
Unfortunately, the data does not say whether recovered vehicles are found intact, or after key items such as bonnets and doors have been removed.
‘The demand for second-hand spares of many quality vehicles is huge for many cars, but the value seen in Land Rover parts seems almost frenetic at the moment,’ warns Ken.
It is believed that stripping a Defender generates more profit than stripping most other types of car. In the case of doors, bonnet and accessories, it can also be done relatively fast. LRO’s own Defender 110 TDCi has been stripped by thieves twice in recent years.
‘With the amount of Landies stolen so far this year, we might already be in a perfect storm for owners with demand for spare parts being so high.’ – Dr Ken German, former Metropolitan Police officer & Vehicle Crime Consultant
10 Range Rovers a day
These crime figures focus on London, but Land Rover thefts are known to be particularly common in the East Midlands and areas of East Anglia.
‘The chop shops are thriving, especially in the West Midlands Yorkshire and Essex. Two of these gangs were arrested last year for stealing Land Rovers but their new focus on fraud has left a void for those youngsters intent on committing crime to impress their peers. The police now see these being used and exploited in the theft of all types of private and commercial vehicles.’
Land Rovers are frequently targeted by car thieves. Earlier this year, the DVLA revealed that Land Rovers were among two of the top 10 most-stolen vehicles in 2021. Range Rovers were the second most stolen, totalling 3754 thefts in 2021, an average of more than 10 per day. Discoverys were in seventh place, with 1260 thefts. (Top of the list was the Ford Fiesta.)
Vehicle security firm Tracker has also revealed that in 2021 more Range Rover Sports were stolen and then subsequently recovered than any other vehicle. That year, more than one third of their recovered vehicles were Land Rovers.
Car thefts in 2021 rose by 3.5% on 2020 figures to 48,492 – although this figure is still significantly lower than 2019’s figure of 58,642.
Three ways to stop your Land Rover from being stolen
- Get a tracker. Ken advises: ‘Get a good one with a back up team that can follow a signal and be there to recover it when it stops. Otherwise it can be stripped of parts by the time you find it. Also it may be a bit of a bind but get a cover for it so thieves can’t see what’s on offer.’
- Mark the component parts. Use ink that shows up under ultra-violet light, or MicroDot identification marks. It won’t stop the vehicle being stolen, but it’ll help police return anything discovered in a raid.
- Use multiple security devices. Steering wheel locks, pedal locks, handbrake locks… each is a useful layer. Prioritise those that are Thatcham approved, and don’t get too complacent just because you have one of the above. You’re up against professional thieves.
For more advice, visit our full guide on how to protect your Land Rover from theft.
If you have a unique experience that’s relevant to this story (perhaps you’ve learned an unfortunate lesson the hard way) get in touch. Email firstname.lastname@example.org