IN­TER­NA­TIONAL THIEVES TAR­GET CLAS­SICS IN UK

For­eign gangs be­hind big rise in Land Rovers, Fords and Mi­nis stolen to or­der from Bri­tain

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Front Page -

Statis­tics re­leased by po­lice show that an off-road ve­hi­cle crime­wave has hit the UK – at least 120 clas­sic Land Rovers have been stolen this year. This fol­lows po­lice warn­ings to own­ers of clas­sic Fords and Mi­nis which have also been tar­geted by thieves. An au­to­mo­tive crime ex­pert told

CCW that the rise in thefts is the re­sult of for­eign gangs. For­mer chief of the Metropoli­tan Po­lice Stolen Ve­hi­cle Squad Dr Ken Ger­man ex­plains the re­cent Land Rover thefts: ‘It’s or­gan­ised crime. Gangs steal­ing clas­sic off-road­ers to or­der are tar­get­ing Bri­tain, and in many in­stances they work with Bri­tish crim­i­nals to ship them over­seas.’ Like Mi­nis and Fords, it is the Land Rover’s pop­u­lar­ity and lack of se­cu­rity that makes them tempt­ing.

Statis­tics re­leased by po­lice show that an off-road ve­hi­cle crime­wave has hit the UK – at least 120 clas­sic Land Rovers have been stolen this year.

And it’s not just small time Bri­tish crooks who are cashing in, ac­cord­ing to for­mer Stolen Ve­hi­cle Squad boss Dr Ken Ger­man. Now work­ing for the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Auto Theft In­ves­ti­ga­tors (IAATI), the or­gan­i­sa­tion for pro­fes­sion­als in­volved in the pre­ven­tion and de­tec­tion of ve­hi­cle crime, Dr Ger­man says many of the thefts are be­ing or­ches­trated by in­ter­na­tional crim­i­nals.

He says: ‘At least 120 Land Rovers have been stolen in the space of 12 months. It’s or­gan­ised crime. Gangs steal­ing clas­sic off-road­ers to or­der are tar­get­ing Bri­tain, and in many in­stances they work with Bri­tish crim­i­nals to ship them over­seas.’

The Land Rover’s pop­u­lar­ity over­seas and lack of se­cu­rity fea­tures have al­ways made them prime tar­gets. But – like clas­sic Fords and Mi­nis – their ris­ing val­ues have made them even more vul­ner­a­ble.

How­ever, Dr Ger­man be­lieves the Land Rover theft bub­ble could burst. ‘Soon, they’ll be­come too hot, too hard to steal and get away with,’ he says. ‘But for now, peo­ple need to re­main vig­i­lant.’

Own­ers are al­ready on the alert in the north of Eng­land af­ter Hum­ber­side po­lice re­vealed that 15 of the off-road­ers had been stolen since 1 Novem­ber 2015 in the re­gion. North York­shire po­lice also raised con­cerns about crim­i­nal gangs af­ter a re­port re­vealed a 69 per­cent rise in thefts from 2014 to 2015 in the North East.

Ac­cord­ing to in­surer NFU, Land Rover (in­clud­ing Se­ries mod­els and De­fend­ers) thefts across the UK cost £1.8m through­out 2015. The North East topped the fig­ures – with the re­gion claim­ing £760,000 worth of thefts in 2015.

Mike Good­bun, ed­i­tor of CCW’s sis­ter mag­a­zine Land Rover Owner In­ter­na­tional, says: ‘It’s de­press­ingly nor­mal, sadly. Land Rovers are tar­geted be­cause they are so easy to steal. Lots of peo­ple are now mak­ing big busi­ness out of this be­cause the De­fender has stopped pro­duc­tion. Even newer cars have very few se­cu­rity fea­tures. The new Se­ries I Re­born cars aren’t se­cu­rity laden ei­ther but I can’t imag­ine many of them will be stolen, be­cause they’ll be tucked away in se­cure garages.’ Mur­ray Scul­lion Con­tact the Po­lice on 101 or crimestop­pers on 0800 555 111

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