Following recent warnings from Oxfordshire and West Yorkshire police forces about Defender thefts
another police force has warned Defender owners to be aware. Thieves are becoming more blatant as they aim to steal Land Rover Defenders in Craven according to Inspector Craig Linton, of North Yorkshire Police in Skipton. He said car thieves were now targeting four-wheel-drives at town centre supermarkets in broad daylight rather than travelling to rural outlying areas after dark. Attempted thefts of the vehicles have averaged one a week this year and Defenders are targeted because of their high aluminium content, which fetches a high scrap price.
Inspector Linton said Defenders were 'rarely recovered and were probably stripped down within hours.' He pointed out that 'a total of 15 four-wheel-drives were taken last year, ten of which were Defenders.'
He continued, 'The difference this year is that, though the figures are not huge, the thefts are taking place at supermarkets in the middle of the day and that’s quite blatant.They go for Defenders because of the aluminium body work. We would urge people to take steps to increase security of vehicles and fit anti-theft devices.'
Four Defenders have been stolen in Craven this year and unsuccessful attempts have been made to steal two more. Other types of vehicles seem not to be at such risk. A Skipton man whose Defender was stolen last November, said his 'heart sank to his stomach' when he discovered the vehicle was missing.
He explained, 'The chassis and engine were recovered by police and a man has been charged with receiving stolen goods. Apparently Defenders are easy to take apart and strip down so the parts can be exported or sold for scrap. It’s not just the loss of the vehicle, it’s all the hassle and inconvenience of dealing with the insurance and the disruption to my business.' Despite this, the experience has not put him off Defenders and he has bought another but one with more security features. He said, 'I’m now trying to make it as difficult as I can for thieves. I’ve got a deterrent, a tracker meant to be about 95% efficient in pinpointing the vehicle should it be stolen.'
DC Ann Hearn, of Skipton CID, said farmers needed to be more crime-conscious, 'Farmers need to lock their vehicles even if leaving them for a couple of minutes. Just because they live in a nice area does not mean they will not be crime victims. We do suffer from travelling criminals who take advantage of some people’s more relaxed approach.' DC Hearn suggested that locals and visitors should report any suspicious sightings immediately by telephoning the police on 0845 6060 247