Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be any abatement in the number of Land Rovers being stolen. Spend any amount of time on social media and within a day you’ll see at least a couple of mentions.
Land Rovers have always been the target of thieves. I even bought a Disklok for my Defender before I had picked up the vehicle. And that was over 15 years ago.
So we know there’s an issue, but why aren’t people doing more about it?
‘The police should do more to catch thieves,’ is often shouted. But, hey, what about preventing the thefts from happening in the first place?
‘If a thief wants it, they’re going to have it,’ is the reason some give for not securing their vehicle. But isn’t that just making life easier for a thief?
The first thing to remember, though, is that if you are a victim of crime, you are just that. A victim. It is not your fault. You didn’t make the thief take the vehicle.
I came across the sorry state pictured above while greenlaning at the weekend – and in the time between me reporting the find to the police and friends of the owner finding it later that evening, the wheels and tyres, and winch bumper had been stolen from the burnt-out shell.
Land Rover security on older models is pretty poor, and it’s fairly easy to get round. Newer Land Rovers are much better, but they face different problems, with thieves stealing them by hacking the electronics. So, what can you do to protect your Land Rover?
Simple – add layers of security. Don’t expect the factory-fit kit to protect the vehicle; at the very least add one item. And the more you add, the safer it should be. All security products will be vulnerable in one way or another, so the more you add, the harder you’ll make it.
The most obvious item is a strong, visible deterrent. A strong steering wheel lock will make a thief think twice – at the very least, they’ll make some noise removing it. This sort of product is ideal for all Land Rovers, and is a good mechanical barrier to counter thefts using electronic equipment. Other mechanical devices, like pedal and gear lever locks can also add to the layers.
Next, you should consider some sort of immobiliser. This can be a hidden switch on older motors that simply prevents the engine from being started, to a more sophisticated one for newer vehicles. Some insurance policies insist a Thatcham-approved immobiliser is fitted.
Those will slow a thief down, increasing the chance of them being caught, which most don’t like.
But, if your Land Rover is stolen, you’ve got more of a chance of finding it again if it’s fitted with a tracking device. It’s well-known that many stolen vehicles are ‘parked up’ after being stolen – they can’t risk taking it somewhere and it transmitting its location, leading police straight to them.
Those are the basics and won’t cost more than a decent accessory for your Land Rover. But, what more can you do?
Security mark the vehicle. Land Rovers are easily dismantled and there is a good demand for secondhand parts. If you etch all of the windows and tag other components, they can’t be sold on and they can be traced. Plus, marked items are too hot to have kicking around. Oh, and fit security items to prevent parts from being stolen from the vehicle – there was a spate of Defender doors and bonnets being stolen from parked vehicles, but accessories are also vulnerable.
Talking of secondhand parts – if you buy some, how do you know they aren’t stolen? Only buy from reputable sources. And, if you buy at an autojumble, get a photo of the seller – they won’t mind (and if they do, ask yourself why…)
Getting back to protecting the vehicle, lock the Land Rover away. Unfortunately, most Land Rovers don’t fit in domestic garages, but if yours does, lock it away. If not, and you have a drive, consider installing security posts.
If you park on a road, make sure it is well lit, and don’t make it an obvious target by leaving tempting stuff inside it. In the run-up to Christmas, make sure that any purchases are hidden away.
If your Land Rover or Range Rover has keyless-entry, store the keys as far away from the front door/outside walls as possible. Thieves try to build a ‘wireless bridge’ between the fob and vehicle. If they can’t pick up the fob’s signal, they can’t easily steal your pride and joy. Putting fobs in a Faraday bag or even a metal box will reduce the signal range.
Hopefully, that will all go to help keep your Land Rover safe, but, inevitably, some will still be stolen, no matter how well secured they are.
Julian Shoolheifer’s very original Series II was taken from a locked barn a couple of weeks ago and is still missing – it must be somewhere.
There are a few groups on social media where reports of stolen vehicles are posted to that are worth keeping an eye on. The biggest is LandyWatch, which has been around for yonks (it was previously a website) and has almost 15,000 followers – so any stolen vehicles posted to it are likely to be seen by a large number of people. Members also post up suspicious vehicles – or ones where the Land Rover just looks out of place, meaning some stolen vehicles have been recovered.
We won’t be able to stop all thefts of Land Rovers, but if we all do our bit, the numbers going will, hopefully, drop.