A spate of thefts of Land Rover Defenders has prompted the Police Forces in West Yorkshire and Oxfordshire to issue warnings to the public about the problem and concentrate on catching those responsible.
In West Yorkshire, around the Otley area the police have set up a 'stop and search' crackdown. Vehicles have been going missing in the area since December, with Defender models being repeatedly targeted - two were stolen in Otley very recently. Determined to halt the trend, West Yorkshire Police have started an operation that will involve stopping and meticulously checking any Land Rovers they see on the roads. Inspector Richard Coldwell, of the North West Outer Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT), said, "I am worried about this although I don't want to get it out of proportion. We have had seven Land Rovers stolen from the Otley and Wharfedale area since the second week of December, and it's the Defender model that is being targeted. That is seven too many." He continued, "We're carrying out a lot of research into this and putting an operation in place whereby we're going out and actively stopping Land Rovers. The message to legitimate owners is, if you've got a Land Rover and are stopped by the police - don't worry. We're trying to catch the thieves and we will be looking really closely at the vehicles to check the chassis numbers and things like that so they will have to bear with us. We need to do this and to stop these stolen vehicles from being sold on."
Inspector Coldwell added, "The message to the criminals is to watch out, because we will be stopping and checking anything that looks like a Land Rover. We also want to reassure the decent members of the public and ask them to please lock their vehicles in their garage or shed, if possible, and take every other security measure they possibly can."
Insp Coldwell believes many of the stolen vehicles are being stripped down before their parts, and engines, are sold off. He said, "I would urge anyone who has information about who is doing this or where these vehicles are going and being stored to get in touch. They've been taken both during the day and overnight."
A lot of the Defenders are being stolen from farmers and people who live in isolated, rural locations so the Police ask people to ring then if they see anything at all suspicious. Anyone with information is asked to contact Otley Police on 01274 471458 or call the anonymous and confidential Crimestoppers number, 0800 555 111.
Oxfordshire Police are also warning owners of Land Rover Defenders to take extra security precautions following the thefts of two of the vehicles recently; a red Land Rover Defender was stolen from Park Hill, Wheatley, while a second vehicle, a blue Land Rover Defender was taken from a farm in Vicarage Road, Steventon. PC Ian Leese, of South Oxfordshire Priority Crime Team, has urged motorists in the area to take precautions and to be aware of any person paying particular attention to Land Rover Defenders.
He said, "Car crime can cost the victim a huge amount of money. But, through higher insurance premiums, these crimes affect all motorists. To minimise the risk to a vehicle, motorists should seriously consider fit steering wheel locks, immobilisers and, when possible, park in well-lit or secure areas."
PC Leese added, “I would also urge anyone who might have information to help with our enquiries to contact me.” Anyone with any information should contact PC Leese at Didcot police station via 0845 8 505 505, or or call the anonymous and confidential Crimestoppers number, 0800 555 111.
Finally, a stolen Range Rover. The Albanian authorities say they have sent back to Italy a car stolen from AC Milan footballer Gennaro Gattuso. The Range Rover was stolen in 2006, and was seized in the Abanian capital, Tirana, last year. It was owned at that time by an Albanian man who had bought the car from an Italian but he was not charged. Authorities said that besides Gattuso's car, they returned six other vehicles that had been stolen in Italy, Norway and Greece. It is suggested that many vehicles stolen in European countries end up in Albania with false documentation.