NFU Mutual is urging farmers and country home owners to ramp up security measures as organised criminal gangs are scouring the countryside and cities for Land Rover Defenders and luxury 4x4s.
Latest figures from the insurer reveal that claims costs for theft of Defender vehicles have risen 14% since the car rolled off the production line in early 2016.
Farmers, who rely on the iconic 4x4 to farm and tend to livestock, are finding their vehicles stripped of parts such as bonnets and doors, or stolen altogether as demand from across the globe increases.
Thefts of executive cars and luxury 4x4s have also spiked with the insurer reporting a significant rise in the cost of Range Rover theft in the past year.
NFU Mutual, which works closely with the National Vehicle Intelligence Service (NaVCIS), has traced stolen Range Rovers worth more than £75,000 each as far afield as Africa and the Far East.
One of the most recent vehicles to be repatriated by NFU Mutual was a Range Rover Sport insured by the company and worth over £60,000, which was seized in Antwerp following an operation coordinated by NFU Mutual and NaVCIS.
Another recovery, of two Range Rovers covered with mattresses and worth over £100,000, was made from a shipping container in Felixstowe.
Clive Harris, Agricultural Vehicle Specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “Whether they’re compromising keyless technology or dismantling Defenders, thieves are deploying a range of tactics to feed demand for classic and modern 4 x4s from organised criminal gangs operating around the world.
“While insurance can cover the cost of theft, it does not account for the inconvenience and business interruption experienced. People in rural areas are feeling increasingly vulnerable and farms, which rely on 4x4s for mobility as part their business, are left particularly hard hit.
“We’re urging owners to ensure they have adequate security measures in place which can range from using aftermarket mechanical immobilisers such as a steering wheel locks to trackers and faraday box solutions, which block out signals.”
According to NFU Mutual claims data, the region with the highest cost of Land Rover Defender thefts last year was the Midlands, followed by the North East and South East.
NFU Mutual’s top tips for securing vehicles in the countryside
Classic Land Rover Defender: