Stop Thief!

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Using a variety of devices will help prevent this happening to you : credit: © Martin Domoney
Layering up security devices is the most effective way of keeping your Land Rover safe. Here’s what you can do to stop your pride and joy becoming yet another depressing statistic

There is no hard-and-fast rule about what security devices will defeat a thief. Some may struggle to remove hardware, others may find electronics tricky, but one thing’s for sure – the more security you fit, and the greater the variety you use, the more secure your Land Rover will be.

There are six main areas to protect your pride and joy, which needn’t cost a fortune – most of us buy ready-made security devices for convenience, but you can also knock up some of your own.

The main categories are hardware to prevent your Land Rover from being stolen, immobilisers, tracking devices, hardware to prevent parts from being stolen, items to dissuade thieves, and theft prevention.

If you add one item from each of these groups, your Land Rover will be considerably less likely to go missing. Add more than one from each category and a potential thief will hopefully walk on by.

We suggest spending around ten per cent of the value of the vehicle on security products, which may seem a lot, but many will last for years and hopefully repay their expense by keeping your Land Rover safe and in your possession.

 

HARDWARE TO PREVENT YOUR LAND ROVER BEING STOLEN

This category includes anything that will prevent a thief from driving the Land Rover before the device is removed, and ranges from steering and pedal locks to gearlever locks, wheel clamps and bollards. These are highly visible items and tell a thief that it’s not going to be that quick a job to steal the vehicle. All security hardware can eventually be overcome and, as a rule, the cheaper the item, the quicker it is to defeat. Don’t rely on a £10 lock to secure a £75,000 Range Rover.

 

Steering wheel lock
Price:
Basic ones from £20;Good ones from £120

It’s likely that the first thing anyone sees when they look into a Land Rover is a steering wheel lock. These are typically brightly coloured security products which tell onlookers that you would prefer your Land Rover to be there when you return. Loads of different kinds are available, but the ones that cover much, or all, of the steering wheel tend to offer higher security. Many Land Rover owners use Diskloks as there tends to be more room to store them; the downside is that they are cumbersome to tuck away in more confined cabs and need to be strapped down when driving. Other steering wheel locks are available, but all need to be restrained when driving.
An immediate and obvious deterrent. Available for all models.
Cheap ones aren’t that secure. Can be tricky to store within the vehicle.

 

Removable steering wheel
Price:
from £165 for demountable boss (plus steering wheel); £325 incl steering wheel for better protection

Your Land Rover can’t be driven away if there’s no steering wheel, so take the wheel off when you park. Only suitable for no-switch/no-airbag steering wheels – classic Defender, some classic Range Rovers and most Series Land Rovers – but you can lock the steering wheel away when you’re not driving. You will need a storage drawer for it, though. For additional security, fit an Optimill Swivel Lock (£160), which prevents another steering wheel being fitted to the mount.
Prevents get-in-and-drive thefts.
You need to store the steering wheel somewhere when parked, and the Swivel Lock somewhere when you’re driving.

 

Pedal lock
Price:
From £240

Pedal locks prevent thieves from using the accelerator, brake and clutch, meaning the Land Rover can’t be driven away. Lots of different types are available, but they should all be either designed for the particular vehicle, or able to be set-up for your car: there’s no one-size-fits-all. With high-security locks, breaking them off is noisy and time-consuming.
Slows down drive-away thefts.
They’re heavy and tricky to store.

 

Handbrake lock
Price:
From £35

Some may say that Land Rover handbrakes are never particularly effective, but you can fit a lock to prevent the handbrake being released on certain models. They’re easy to fit and don’t generally require drilling any additional holes.
Fixed in place – not much to store. Will slow down a drive-away thief.
They’re not that hefty, so should be used in addition to other items.

 

Gearlever lock
Price:
From £75

Similar to the handbrake lock – and some actually lock both – the gearlever lock prevents any gear other than the locked one (normally fifth) being selected, so needs to be disarmed before driving. Obviously, it only works on a manual vehicle and is best complemented with a pedal lock, but even if the thief can put the clutch down to freewheel the vehicle, they can’t drive it.
Slows a drive-away theft.
Needs to be stored somewhere.

 

Wheel clamp
Price:
From £50

If you have to park your Land Rover in a high-risk area, a wheel clamp is a very effective theft deterrent. They’re bright and obvious, and will require tools to bypass. These are also handy for securing caravans and trailers; on multi-axle trailers, fit it to one of the wheels on the rear axle for the best security – it’ll make it the hardest to move.
Very visible and noisy to remove.
Cumbersome and awkward to carry and fit.

 

Bollard
Price:
From £100

A staple of commercial premises for decades, bollards prevent vehicles leaving a premises without sustaining damage. The best ones are dug into the ground, so will stop a vehicle being moved even if driven at.
Highly visible deterrent.
Look a bit industrial. You’ll need enough to stop the Land Rover being driven through a gap. Can be a trip hazard.

 

Steering lock
Price:
From £85

Most Land Rovers since the Series III have featured steering locks – so it’s important to use them. The standard lock is okay, but many thieves will smash the lock to allow them to start the vehicle with a screwdriver. The X-Defend Column Lock protects the lock barrel, making it harder to break. It’s a fit-and-forget item.
Protects the steering lock.
Difficult to remove if you need to replace the barrel.

 

OBD port lock
Price:
From £65

Some electronic systems on more modern Land Rovers allow you to code a key from the OBDII diagnostic port, so preventing access to this is another step to protecting your Land Rover. Many vans have aftermarket lockable covers, but for a Land Rover you’ll need to buy a fits-all item.
Prevents access to the OBDII port.
You need tools to remove it if you need to access it.

 

IMMOBILISERS

Preventing the engine from starting is a good way to foil thieves. Most opportunists will want to drive away in the stolen vehicle, as loading it onto a transporter is riskier – but it does happen.

The best immobilisers are ones that activate passively – switch the engine off and the immobiliser will prevent it re-starting after a certain amount of time has passed – but you can integrate a hidden switch into the dash as a low-tech option. Some tracking devices allow you to immobilise remotely.

 

Passive immobiliser
Price:
From £250

Relatively simple to use, a passive immobiliser will only allow the engine to re-start after it has been immobilised if you have activated a plipper, inserted an electronic key or, more recently, have an automatic driver recognition (ADR) card in the vehicle. With the plipper and key there’s usually a certain window you have to start the vehicle in after deactivating in, but it’s quite generous. The ADR systems work as long as the card is in the vehicle – so make sure you remove it!
Simple, automatic immobilising.
Normally needs professional installation.

 

Hidden switches
Price:
From £3

If you’re savvy with electrics, you can fit an additional switch (or switches) to your Land Rover that need to be pressed or switched in order for the engine to start. You can use an unused switch in a standard position, or hide it somewhere. The easiest way is to put a switch into the wire to the coil or the stop solenoid – but you can get creative.
Very cheap to do.
Better for older vehicles. Disable it if you lay the vehicle up – you might forget where the switch is.

 

Remote immobiliser
Price:
From £75

Having the ability to remotely immobilise a vehicle is quite cool, but not as effective as a passive immobiliser. Often included as an add-on for tracking devices, it’s better if the vehicle couldn’t be started in the first place – but it does mean you can switch the car off if it is stolen. Most will only immobilise when the vehicle has come to a stop, so don’t have visions of deliberately stranding a stolen vehicle on a motorway.
Allows you to disable the Land Rover even if you’re not in the same place.
Should be used in conjunction with a passive immobiliser.

 

TRACKERS

These won’t prevent a Land Rover from being stolen, but will give you a good chance of getting it back if it is. We’ve got a fitting guide opposite, but there are other items you can use to help find your Land Rover. Often thieves will park stolen vehicles out of the way for a day or so to see if they are found – if they are, they probably had a tracking device fitted and would have led the police straight to the thieves. You’re most likely to get it back within that window.

 

Bluetooth tracking tags
Price:
From £20

Loads of people use tracking tags to keep tabs on where their items are – apparently, they’re perfect for knowing where your luggage is when flying. But they can also be used to track vehicles – or accessories – and you can use your phone to hunt it down. An Airtag may show up on the phone of anyone who has stolen the vehicle, so it should be hidden where they can’t easily find and remove it. But it may be enough to make them abandon the vehicle.
Cheap tracking.
Needs to be hidden to be effective. Some need to be near a Bluetooth-enabled device.

 

Fitting a Terrafirma Tracker
Price:
£294.99  Contact: [email protected]

You’ve heard the perks of tracking devices and remote immobilisers already, but what about a unit that combines both?

The Terrafirma Proactive Tracker uses power feeds, GPS technology and motion sensors to alert you when the Land Rover is being tampered with – doors opened, battery disconnected, etc – and allows you to not only see exactly where it is at all times, but also kill the engine remotely from your phone. You can even set a ‘geo zone’ around your property or area, and will be alerted the minute the vehicle leaves it without the key in the ignition – so even if the Land Rover gets lifted and flat-bedded away, you’ll know where it is.

We’re showing how to fit and wire up your tracker here, but this is to be used as a guide only. Obviously, the more creative you are with the mounting point of the tracker and the wiring to it, the less likely it is to be detected and removed by criminals before it can give you the vital information of your pride and joy’s whereabouts.

What’s in the box? The kit comes with everything you need to fit and wire the tracker and pair it to your phone with the app, including a SIM card. We have a pre-made wiring harness to tap into the Defender’s inertia cut-off switch, but it’s simple to make your own and run it to the relay.

Plug and play: Here’s the piggyback harness that will interact between the Defender’s wiring loom and the fuel cut-off switch under the bonnet, for the remote immobiliser function. When you hit the button, a relay cuts power to the switch, killing the engine. Conceal the wiring well.

Choose a location: We’re showing the tracker being fitted and wired behind the dash for demonstration purposes, but the better you hide it the longer it’ll take a thief to find and remove. Think outside the box – in a seat back, under a cubby box, above the headliner…

Find some feeds: The tracker unit and cut-off relay need a permanent 12-volt feed, an ignition switched 12v feed and an earth. Use a testlight or multimeter to find reliable power sources, then use the waterproof connectors in the kit to tap into them. Fit a ring terminal to a good earth point.

Connect the wiring: Slip the locking ring over the wires to the relay and tracker, then push the correct wires into the back of the connector and tighten the knurled ring, locking them in. You may need to extend the wires depending on where you have hidden the tracker.

Wire cut-off switch: Fit spade terminals to the ends of the green wires on the relay holder, and tap them into the ignition system, fuel pump or inertia switch wiring that you want to disrupt via the remote immobiliser, killing the engine. Again, be creative with routing and wire colour.

Neaten and hide: Push the cut-off relay into its holder and double-check the wiring as per the instructions in the tracker kit. Use cable ties to bunch the wiring up, and tuck it somewhere out of sight. Taping it up or covering in heat shrink with further slow removal of the system.

Mount the tracker: Plug in the tracker unit and make sure it powers up as it should. When you’re happy with your wiring, mount the tracker solidly to a flat surface with the self-adhesive tape. It’s vital it’s stuck properly for the motion sensing feature to work correctly.

Sync to your phone: Download the app using the app store on your phone or the QR code on the tracker’s box, then run through the simple set-up steps. Once sorted, give the tracker’s features a test run, and adjust sensitivity of motion sensing if needed. All done: you can now sleep better at night.

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HARDWARE TO PREVENT PARTS BEING STOLEN

Unfortunately, it’s not just complete vehicles that are at risk: vehicles are targeted for parts, and one police force’s Defender had its doors and bonnet stolen while it was parked outside a police station a few years ago. Making stuff harder to remove will reduce the likelihood of it going walkies.

Security fixings
Price:
From £10

Anything you can do to slow down a thief has to be worth it. The greater the variety of fixings you have securing parts, the longer it’s going to take to remove an item, or the more noise it’s going to make. Unfortunately, many tamperproof screws use readily available driver bits, common enough for many people to have them in their toolboxes. But even then, if you use tamperproof, flat head, hex and Pozidriv fixings to secure items, you’re going to slow someone down. Use more specialised fixings for more expensive kit – people are less likely to have the correct tools to remove them. One-way and shear nuts will increase security, but also be more of a pain if you need to remove them, so are best used on stuff that can be fixed for good.
Will slow down a thief.
Will also slow you down when you want to remove an item.

 

Filling in screw heads
Price:
From £2.

Simply filling screw heads with chemical metal or similar will make things much more difficult to remove – it’ll have to be drilled or picked out first.
Very cheap.
Time-consuming if you need to undo the fixing.

 

Bonnet hinges
Price:
From £120

Classic Defender bonnets are also fairly quick to remove; security hinges will slow the process considerably, while doing away with the rusty originals.
You only need to fit it once.
Can be expensive.

 

Door plates
Price:
From £25

If you’re not fitting security hinges – or even if you are – these plates prevent your classic Defender doors from being removed unless the door is already open, by hooking around the inside edge of the bulkhead when the door is in the closed position.
Simple and effective.
You’ll need to remove door trim to fit.

 

Door plates
Price:
From £25

If you’re not fitting security hinges – or even if you are – these plates prevent your classic Defender doors from being removed unless the door is already open, by hooking around the inside edge of the bulkhead when the door is in the closed position.
Simple and effective.
You’ll need to remove door trim to fit.

 

Bonnet cable guards
Price:
From £35

Designed to stop classic Defender bonnets being opened from the outside, these guards protect the release mechanism and stop the cable from being pulled through the grille. Other Land Rover models don’t suffer the same sort of theft issues, but if you are concerned, you could make your own guard.
Prevents access from the outside.
Makes it more difficult to open the bonnet if the cable breaks.

 

Locking wheel nuts
Price:
From £40

If you’ve got a set of expensive or desirable wheels, you may be at risk of them going missing – but this sort of crime is less common these days. Locking wheel nuts will help them stay attached to your Land Rover for longer.
No more difficult to fit than standard wheel nuts.
A faff should you lose the locking wheel nut key.

 

Spare wheel locks
Price:
From £95

While the theft of the road wheels on a Land Rover is becoming less common, the theft of spare wheels is still an issue, presumably as often the tyres won’t ever have been used. You can buy locks for the spares for those mounted on the rear door as well as anti-theft guards for those mounted under the vehicle.
You won’t be left without a spare when you need it.
Slows down the wheel-changing process.

 

Catalytic converter guard
Price:
From £175

Thefts of catalytic convertors are quite an issue on some vehicles, but not others. Initially it was said that they were being stolen for the rare metal content, but more recently it has been suggested that it’s to fill the black-market demand for cheap second-hand parts. You can chain the catalytic converter to the Land Rover, making it far more time-consuming to steal.
Could save your expensive exhaust.
Chains may get caught when off-roading.

 

Trailer locks
Price:
From £40

Many of us also have a trailer of one form or another – be it a caravan, plant or overland – and keeping that secure can be problematic, especially if it’s left in one place a lot of the time. Layers of security will make it less desirable, but the bare minimum must be a hitch lock, which will prevent it being hooked up to a vehicle and dragged off. Add a wheel clamp, alarm and security marking and you’ve gone a long way to ensuring it’ll remain yours.
Hitch locks are fairly easy to use.
Removing layers of heavy security can become boring – but sadly it needs to
be done.

 

DISSUADE THIEVES

Unless it’s a joyrider looking for a quick thrill, a thief will want to make money from a stolen Land Rover, whether as a whole vehicle or in parts. Some stolen vehicles will end up in places where no one cares about whether it was supplied legally or not – but security marking might help someone spot that all isn’t kosher before it gets there. And security-marked parts greatly increase the chance of the occupants of a ‘chop-shop’ getting caught, and also devalue the parts significantly.

 

Security marking
Price:
From £45

If you etch every piece of glass in a Land Rover with its registration, every piece of glass will have to be replaced before it is sold on, which will make it inconvenient for the thieves at best, and also increase the chance of them being caught. Using a full security marking kit means parts will be traceable to your vehicle – and if that’s the case, thieves will be encouraged to look elsewhere.
Makes your Land Rover less desirable.
Indelibly marks the outside of your vehicle.

 

Letter/number punching
Price:
From £15

Yeah, it’s not a subtle way to mark stuff, but hammering your registration number using punches into metal makes it easy to identify and hard
to remove. Best used for the parts
that can’t normally be seen and won’t be weakened.
Might help the police catch thieves.
Looks a bit ‘industrial’.

 

Smartwater
Price:
From £50

Not quite as obvious as etching or number punching, Smartwater can be used to mark parts with a forensic code, which is almost invisible to the naked eye, but glows under UV light. It can help identify your parts if the Land Rover is stolen, but needs to be shouted about with stickers to act as a deterrent.
Near-invisible marking.
Requires someone checking parts with a UV light.

 

THEFT PREVENTION

This one can cost as little as you like. Basically, it involves making your Land Rover as unappealing as possible, and includes removing anything from the vehicle that someone else may want, being security-conscious when parking and employing the factory security devices.

 

Security cameras
Price:
From £100

Loads of people have camera doorbells now, and CCTV cameras proliferate on the side of many houses. If you can park in front of a camera, all the better – and try to store as much footage as possible on a rolling basis. A camera trained on a vehicle might be a deterrent, but it also may catch people checking the Land Rover out before it is stolen, so you may be able to rewind the footage to get a better shot of thieves if it
is stolen.
Might dissuade people from taking an interest as they may be identified.
Footage takes up a lot of computer memory and there may be privacy issues with storing it.

 

Garage
Price range:
Dependent on area if you don’t have one already

Keeping your Land Rover behind closed doors will make it safer – not only will someone have to get into the vehicle, they’ll also have to get to it in the first place. Many domestic garages are too low, narrow or short for Land Rovers, which may prevent you from using it for the vehicle. Still, you can turn it into Fort Knox to keep your tools and spares secure – and a garage door stopper will help with that. If you’re parking it outside, blocking the Land Rover in with another vehicle will mean thieves will need to get that out of the way first before driving off.
You can hide the Land Rover from sight.
It may not fit.

 

Faraday bags
Price:
From £7

If you have keyless entry and want to continue using it (disabling it will make your Land Rover more secure), pop your key into a Faraday bag when the vehicle is parked. It’ll reduce the chance of you becoming a victim of ‘relay theft’, where someone hijacks your key’s signal to fool the car into opening the door. Keep the key away from windows, and definitely away from the letterbox – thieves still fish keys from tables in view of the front door.
Allows you to continue to use keyless entry.
You’ve got to remember to use the pouch.

 

Trembler alarms
Price:
From £20

These are often used by workmen on
vans to help keep work tools from going missing and can be fitted to panels or
just placed on gear. The battery-powered units emit a high-pitched alarm to inform you something is up and may scare someone off.
Cheap and easy to use.
You need to be within hearing distance to be able to react.

 

OR JUST TRY THESE FOR FREE...

Where to park
Price:
Free

Leaving your Land Rover in a busy, well-lit place is probably
best if you’re going somewhere unfamiliar – it means people
are likely to see something happening to it. Avoid poorly-lit areas where people can hide and work in the shadows.
Someone is likely to see a person interfering with a vehicle.
People often leave it to someone else to intervene. Might cost more to park.

Factory Steering lock
Price:
Free

Steering locks have been fitted to most Land Rovers since the 1970s – so use yours. Yes, it won’t withstand heavy abuse, but it may buy some more time in preventing your Land Rover going AWOL.
It’s free.
You may have to turn the steering with the engine switched off to work out where to point the steering wheel for the first few times.

Social media shouts
Price:
Free

If your Land Rover does get stolen, get the word out quickly on social media. Make sure you have photos of the vehicle from all angles and have ones showing any unique features, dents and accessories – but don’t show every item. Unfortunately, there are some scammers who will try to claim they know where your Land Rover is and they can get it back for a fee. But hopefully you’ll have some form of tracking device on it, so you’ll be able to find it. Or other owners may spot it being moved. The quicker the word is out, the more likely someone is to see it.
You’ll use the enthusiast movement as your eyes.
Unfortunately, some people will try to scam you.

 

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