DVLA data shows a 28.6% decline in Range Rover Sport thefts
JLR boss Adrian Mardell has called for an “urgent national conversation” about organised vehicle crime, calling on the government to invest further to crack down on gangs, even if that comes instead of tax cuts.
Concerns about the high theft of Range Rover vehicles have led to a reports from owners of a sharp increase in insurance rates.
Asked about the issue during a media call for JLR’s third-quarter financial results, Mardell launched a passionate defence of the safety of his firm’s cars, saying data suggesting a high theft rate of Range Rover and Land Rover Defender models has been exaggerated due to misreported data.
Mardell acknowledged that organised vehicle crime was “a serious issue in this country” that was “landing heavily on all [manufacturers]", including JLR.
He added: "Our clients are suffering from that, and most people in this country won’t like that, whether they’re suffering or not.”
But he insisted that many of the reports on the high theft rate of JLR vehicles was based on old or incomplete data that has been misinterpreted.
Citing the latest full year DVLA statistics for 2023, Mardell said: “Contrary to a widely repeated myth, the Range Rover does not feature in the top 10 vehicles in the UK stolen for calendar year 2023. It is not Britain's most stolen vehicle. There are no JLR models in the top three stolen vehicles in calendar year '23.”
The vehicle theft figures for 2023 show the Ford Fiesta was the UK’s most stolen car, ahead of the Ford Focus. The Range Rover Sport was fifth, with 1631 stolen, the Range Rover Evoque (1489 thefts) was sixth and the Discovery Sport (954) was 10th. Those numbers cover all cars on the road, regardless of age.
Mardell noted that the DVLA data shows a 27.2% year-on-year decline in Range Rover theft and a 28.6% decline in Range Rover Sport theft. He also cited data showing minimal thefts of the latest Range Rover and Defender models.
“For [the] Defender, since launch in 2019, only 130 cars have been stolen out of 45,200 vehicles, a rate of 0.3%,” said Mardell. “The Police National Computer shows only 0.08% of new Range Rovers – just 11 vehicles out of 12,800 vehicles which have been passed over to clients since launch two years ago – have been stolen. It's 15 for the new Range Rover Sport.
“I'm not sure which other brand could actually claim such a high level of security and a low level of theft.”
Mardell said the figures meant “there is no reason whatsoever why any insurance company should not gladly and readily insure those new vehicles – zero reason, in any part of this country.”
He added: “The insurance industry clearly are not using the information in the data, which is a consistent series of dialogues and messages we've had with that industry for the last six months. They are very slow to respond to data.”
Mardell calls for more action to protect motorists
Mardell added that JLR was taking a string of action to continue cutting vehicle theft in a bid to reassure owners and the insurance market.
“We know how upsetting somebody losing a vehicle will be. We've had employees whose vehicles have been stolen. I’ve had friends whose vehicles have been stolen. We know how upsetting this is. So we're doing more than just [making safer] new vehicles: you have to differentiate between the current ones being built and the existing car parc.”
Last November, JLR launched a £10 million fund to introduce security updates for around 200,000 vehicles it built between 2018 and 2022. Mardell said 80,000 vehicles had now received the enhancements and that “theft rates for those are as low as for new vehicles”.
The firm will soon expand that programme to pre-2018 cars, and it will eventually cover 450,000 vehicles, although Mardell acknowledged that speed of delivery was an issue, because many of the cars included are onto second or third owners.
“We know this technology means stealing a Range Rover, stealing a Defender, stealing a Discovery and stealing a Jaguar is not possible,” he said.
Government action needed to cut organised vehicle crime
Mardell cited other actions JLR was taking, adding: “We're working with the government on the Criminal Justice Bill. This technology [used by vehicle thieves] is not illegal, so that's got to change. We've got to make it more difficult for gangs and criminals to operate.
“We're partly funding police security at the ports, because there isn't enough. The containers are not being checked and [stolen cars] get out of the country. If we could stop it there, then the ability for these gangs to do this will be restricted.
“That’s how much we care about: that will help our clients, and that will help all clients of all brands. It's the right thing to do. This is super-important. It's super-personal. And we've got to sort this out.”
Asked whether he thought it was right that JLR felt it had to fund police forces to conduct security checks at ports, Mardell added: “What I've said to the team is we need to do everything we possibly can within our capabilities to sort this out for our clients. They came back with this proposal, so we agreed it. In the circumstances we’re in today, with the facts we face today, with the distress that some clients have seen today, I think that was the right decision.
“Now, if you're asking should companies have to finance police authorities and security authorities as a given? I think we need a national conversation about that. There needs to be an industry-based and government-based discussion around the reasons for the organised crime and what we can do to stop it.
“I hesitate to say this, but I'd rather funds be put towards this rather than tax cuts next year. This is important to so many people. It goes to the fabric of the society we're in. We've got to sort this out. There needs to be a national discussion, and I'll be super-clear where I stand in that discussion.”