PEOPLE in the Cumbrian countryside are being warned to take precautions as thefts of Land Rovers are increasing.

NFU Mutual, a rural insurer, is urging farmers and and other Land Rover Defender owners to take sensible security measures.

Land Rover Defender thefts increased by 34 per cent in 2021 after a lockdown lull in 2020, with the crimes on course to increase again in 2022.

The cost of Defender thefts reported to NFU Mutual has also rocketed by 87 per cent, with £2.6m in cars and parts being stolen from countryside communities and businesses.

Rebecca Davidson, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, said: "We’ve been insuring Land Rovers since they first appeared on British farms, and their iconic status makes these vehicles a regular target for both opportunistic thieves and organised criminal gangs.

"From trusted farm vehicles to coveted collectors’ pieces, Defenders have universal appeal.

"With older models retaining their vintage value and newer used cars soaring in price, thieves are scouring the countryside for Land Rovers, as well as dismantling them for parts. 

"We know that when prices go up, thieves are quick to cash in and the decrease in rural theft that we saw over lockdown is well and truly over.  

"Prevention is best wherever possible, so we’re urging the rural community to take steps to protect their vehicles."

NFU Mutual have provided some tips for keeping your vehicles safe, including: keeping it locked at all times when not in use, ensuring all valuables are removed from the vehicle and having the vehicle identification number etched on windows. 

DC Chris Piggott of NaVCIS (Vehicle Crime Intelligence Police Service) said: "We are particularly concerned that the older Land Rover Defender models, the workhorses which are so important to farmers’ everyday activity, are at risk because of a lack of modern security systems. 

"Owners should therefore fortify their vehicles as much as possible, using a combination of measures such as immobilisers, tracking devices and pedal and steering wheel locks.

"It’s also common to see vehicles stripped for parts in situ, but good site security and simple, cost effective measures can make life difficult enough for thieves for them to abandon their attempts."

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