The Metropolitan Police recorded 7,376 Land Rover thefts in London between the start of 2019 and the end of January 2022. This represents an average of more than 2,000 Land Rovers stolen in the capital each year.
Overall, 4×4 and SUV thefts decreased during the lockdown, but increased again in late 2021. The number of recoveries also followed the patterns created by the lockdown.
Although many vehicles have been lost for good, data shows that many are recovered by the police. In 2021, the Metropolitan Police recovered 1,537 stolen Land Rovers.
Throughout the period, most days saw several Land Rovers recovered. For example, in January 2021, one of the busiest months, 147 stolen Land Rovers were recovered by police, an average of almost five per day.
What the numbers don’t say
The data, provided to LRO as part of a freedom of information request, did not include the type of model, for reasons of confidentiality. In most cases, the model year of each stolen vehicle was not recorded.
It also revealed potential shortcomings in data recording. In particular, only 18% of Land Rovers stolen were classified as 4x4s or SUVs, making it difficult to compare theft statistics by vehicle type over time.
The true scale of thefts is likely to be higher, warns Dr Ken German, a motor crime consultant and former Met stolen car squad officer. “The Met Citation theft figures unfortunately do not take into account whether the car was taken in a burglary or not.” If it was taken in a burglary, it is presented as theft of property (i.e. a car taken in a burglary) and not a car theft.
“Also, if the car had been stripped of its parts, it would be presented as a theft and not a car, which is probably still with its owner – although it is only a shell; if parts are stolen from a car, it will not be registered as a stolen car.
‘Almost frantic’ demand for stolen parts
Many Defenders are stolen to be stripped for parts by so-called “cut shops”.
Unfortunately, the data does not say whether recovered vehicles are found intact or after key items such as hoods and doors have been removed.
“The demand for second-hand spare parts for many quality vehicles is huge for many cars, but the value of Land Rover parts seems almost frenzied at the moment,” warns Ken.
It is believed that stripping a Defender generates more profit than stripping most other types of cars. In the case of doors, bonnet and accessories, this can also be done relatively quickly. LRO’s Defender 110 TDCi has been robbed by thieves twice in recent years.
“With the number of Landys flown so far this year, we could already be in for a perfect storm for owners this year with the demand for spares being so high.” – Dr Ken German, former Metropolitan Police officer and motor crime consultant
10 Range Rovers per day
These crime figures focus on London, but Land Rover thefts are known to be particularly common in the East Midlands and parts of East Anglia.
“Chop shops are thriving, particularly in the West Midlands of Yorkshire and Essex. Two such gangs were arrested last year for stealing Land Rovers, but their newfound focus on fraud has left a void for these youngsters determined to commit crimes to impress their peers. Police now see these being used and exploited in the theft of all types of private and commercial vehicles.
Land Rovers are often the target of vehicle thieves. Earlier this year, the DVLA revealed that Land Rovers were among two of the 10 most stolen vehicles in 2021. Range Rovers were the second most stolen, totaling 3,754 thefts in 2021, an average of more than 10 per day . Discoveries ranked seventh, with 1,260 flights. (Top of the list was the Ford Fiesta.)
Automotive security company Tracker also revealed that in 2021 more Range Rover Sports were stolen and then recovered than any other vehicle. That year, more than a third of their recovered vehicles were Land Rovers.
Car thefts in 2021 rose 3.5% from 2020 figures to 48,492 – although this figure is still significantly lower than the 2019 figure of 58,642.
Three ways to protect your Land Rover
1) Get yourself a tracker. Ken advises, “Get a good one with a rescue team that can follow a signal and be there to pick it up when it stops.” Otherwise, it may be stripped of parts by the time you find it. Also, it can be a bit constricting, but get some cover so thieves can’t see what’s on offer.
2) Mark the component parts. Use ink that shows up under ultraviolet light or MicroDot identification marks. This will not prevent the theft of the vehicle, but it will help the police return anything discovered during a raid.
3) Use multiple security devices. Steering wheel locks, pedal locks, handbrake locks… each is a useful layer. Prioritize those that are Thatcham approved and don’t get too complacent just because you have one of the above problems: you’re dealing with professional thieves.
For more advice, see our guide on how to protect your Land Rover from theft.
If you have a unique experience that is relevant to this story (perhaps you learned an unfortunate lesson the hard way), reach out. E-mail [email protected]