Land Rover Defender thefts are back on the rise, with traditional Defenders in high demand since production ceased in 2016.

According to figures from rural insurer NFU Mutual, the cost of Defender theft increased by 34 per cent in 2019.

Rebecca Davidson, NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist said: “Land Rover Defenders continue to be a target for thieves and every week farmers and enthusiast owners are waking up to find their precious Land Rovers gone – or stripped of bonnets, doors and wings.

“There’s a burgeoning black market for parts, with many of these beloved classics getting dismantled in driveways and farmyards, or being whisked away to chop shops.”

While at least four Defender thefts a week were being reported to NFU Mutual in January 2020, numbers fell to six a month from April to June. However, thefts have risen sharply again and are heading back up towards pre-Covid levels.

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Rebecca added: “We’re warning people in the countryside to be on high alert. Trackers, alarms and storing vehicles out of sight have all been effective measures protecting these British icons.

“With prices of Series I models soaring due to their vintage value, organised criminals are scouring farmyards and country properties to spot examples they can steal.”

The insurer reveals that its claims costs for theft of Defenders rose 34 per cent to £2.1m in 2019 - three years after the last traditional Defender rolled off the Solihull production line.

First launched in 1948, Land Rovers have become a prized classic vehicle owner’s choice as well as still being used every day on farms across the country.

NFU Mutual is advising owners to use a combination of physical security and sophisticated electronic measures to protect their vehicles.