The Range Rover, part of iconic British brand Jaguar Land Rover, is one of the country’s most sought-after cars.
Despite its ultimate owner now being Indian giant Tata Motors, the car remains thoroughly British and continues to be built with a mix of love, pride and engineering brilliance at factories in Birmingham and Liverpool.
Once the domain of the landed gentry, a favourite of Queen Elizabeth II and the wider Royal Family — plus the well-heeled, urban, Chelsea tractor brigade — it is now also the motor of choice for a new type of owner. Namely, those who are keen to flaunt their success and newfound wealth.
Liz Wyse, etiquette adviser for the protocol bible Debrett’s, says: ‘The Range Rover used to be associated with nobility — much like the Barbour wax jacket and Burberry tartan.
But these days, it is just like any other status symbol consumer good: used to show off that you are wealthy. You find they are often the most spotless vehicle on the road and have never been used in the countryside.’
Latest data shows that thefts of all Land Rover vehicles rose by 80% in 2022, with Range Rovers accounting for three-quarters of them
Yet, the rise and rise of the Range Rover is not just attracting the nouveau riche and ‘celebrity’ buyers such as Kim Kardashian and Katie Price.
Disturbingly, the car has become a favourite for criminals — both as vehicles to be owned (by the pimps and drug dealers who sully our streets) and to be stolen to order, often whisked out of the country before UK Border Police have time to blink.
Many Range Rovers, often stolen by Albanian gangs, end up on board a container ship within 24 hours, heading ultimately for destinations as far afield as Russia and Africa.
If not subsequently bought by a local criminal gang leader, they are broken up and their parts sold where they fetch a premium price on the black market.
The crime statistics swirling around Range Rovers are frightening. According to What Car? Magazine and DVLA figures, the Range Rover, now typically retailing at £80,000, was one of the most stolen cars in 2023.
(The rather less grand Ford Fiesta, now selling brand-new for around £19,000, topped the list as the most popular among thieves.)
Data from insurance giant Axa confirms What Car’s disturbing data. It says that thefts of all Land Rover vehicles rose by 80 per cent in 2022, with Range Rovers accounting for three-quarters of them.
Of the near 900,000 licensed Land Rovers in the year to March 2023, some 8,300 were stolen.
The theft of Range Rovers is at an all-time high and shows no signs of slowing
David Pearce, a director at Axa, says: ‘The theft of Range Rovers is at an all-time high and shows no signs of slowing.’
Security expert Thatcham Research agrees. It says criminals will stop at nothing to crack the car’s anti-theft devices because the financial rewards are so high.
Steve Launchbury, the company’s head security engineer, says: ‘Keyless car theft for vehicles such as the Range Rover initially soared due to the availability of key fob duplicators.
‘One thief would stand next to the car holding a transmitter while another would position themselves close to the property holding a relay box that sent a signal from the key inside the home to trick the vehicle’s doors into unlocking — and allowing the criminals to drive off under the cover of darkness.’
Jaguar Land Rover has been working on negating this crime with additional layers of car security.
For example, some key fobs can no longer be hacked if the key has not been moved for a couple of minutes; and the code needed to open the car door is constantly changed.
Target: Thefts of all Land Rover vehicles rose by 80% in 2022 with vehicles stolen by Albanian gangs are often on board a container ship within 24 hours
Yet the criminals, says Mr Launchbury, are nothing but dogged because the rewards are so high.
He adds: ‘The latest tactic is to cut a hole in the car’s tailgate, gaining access to the vehicle.
‘The thieves then plug into the car’s central computer system and start the car.’
For Range Rover owners, the thought of having their vehicle stolen will always be a nagging worry, although many have resorted to housing them at night in alarmed garages or behind locked gates or posts.
But there is another war being waged against them — the soaring cost of motor insurance.
Range Rovers’ rocketing insurance costs
Most insurers have responded to the rising crime statistics surrounding Range Rovers by jacking up premiums for drivers to sky-high levels — way above the average annual premium of just below £1,000 which the typical driver now faces, and at rates above the average increase of 58 per cent.
For example, earlier this month, 52-year-old business owner Mark Perring, from Loughton in Essex, told the Daily Mail that he was quoted an astronomical £14,000 to insure his four-year-old Range Rover.
Some insurers — among them Saga — have even refused to offer renewal premiums on the advice of the experts who underwrite their policies, leaving car owners scampering for alternative cover.
The view of some underwriters is that Range Rovers are nigh on uninsurable
The view of some underwriters is that Range Rovers are nigh on uninsurable; they represent too big an insurance risk.
The situation has become so bad that Jaguar Land Rover had to take the unprecedented step of providing its own branded cover for fear of some Range Rover owners selling their cars and opting for brands more affordable to insure.
Security flaw: Range Rovers became a prime target for car thieves using key fob duplicators to steal vehicles off owners’ driveways
£14,000 to insure a Range Rover Sport in Manchester
This month, Hannah Platts, 40, and husband Kareem Chester, 39, sold their brand-new £100,000 top-of-the-range Land Rover after the Cheshire couple were quoted £11,000 for car insurance.
Although the soaring price of cover reflects, in part, the rising cost of meeting claims caused by accidents (sourcing parts and paying for labour costs), the main factor is crime.
Insurers are fed up to the back teeth having to meet claims from owners of Range Rovers whose vehicles seem to have disappeared off the face of the earth.
As a result, the price of cover for cars rockets skywards in areas where crime is a big issue. So, a Range Rover insured by someone living in one of the country’s big cities can cost four times the amount paid by a driver who lives in a more rural location.
Yesterday, we used comparison website Confused.com to find the best fully comprehensive insurance prices for an £80,000 Range Rover Sport PHEV Autobiography.
Annual prices differed by a startling £10,000 depending on where the motorist lived.
The cheapest quote was £3,351 from insurer Bell for an address in Land’s End, Cornwall. The highest was £13,721 from Insure 2 Drive for a central Manchester address.
Just 18 miles south of Manchester, in the footballers’ wives favourite village of Prestbury, the same vehicle could be insured for £8,303 through Insure 2 Drive. So each mile away from the city saves a Range Rover car owner £301 in annual premium.
After Manchester, the most expensive city was Southampton (£12,366) followed by Birmingham (£11,367) and London (£10,995). At the other end of the country, insurance at John O’Groats cost £4,365 while down on the Isle of Wight the premium was £5,775.
A few days ago, Money Mail asked to speak to Jaguar Land Rover about its decision to link up with Wrisk to offer car cover to drivers of its vehicles. It declined to do so, but it did provide answers to several questions.
Jaguar Land Rover said its cover is available to owners of both new and used Range Rover, Defender, Discovery and Jaguar vehicles.
The average monthly cost that customers are paying for cover is £185 — £2,220 a year — and there are no tie-ins and no interest charges. Cover can be cancelled, renewed or changed at any time.
It says it can offer competitive prices because of the ‘live data and information’ it shares with its underwriters (Liverpool Victoria, part of Allianz).
Jaguar Land Rover also says it is keen to educate the ‘wider insurance industry and sharing our latest security innovations and data with them, to help increase the range of insurance options for clients on the wider market.
‘Unfortunately, a record increase in car insurance premiums is an issue affecting the whole industry. We are fully committed to doing everything we can to support clients who might be struggling to get insurance.’
On the specific issue of crime, it has set aside £10 million to retrofit older Range Rovers with the latest high-tech security measures.
It says this led to a 20 per cent fall in thefts last year.
Jaguar Land Rover also says it would welcome new legislation to make it illegal to produce, distribute and possess the various tools on the market used in car thefts, such as key fob duplicators, relay boxes and car computer hackers.
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