Having put hours and hours of work, not to mention thousands of pounds, into my Land Rover Defender, I was dismayed and concerned to learn it is now the most stolen car in the UK!
It seems the very design and nature of a Defender, the thing that makes it so attractive to the enthusiast, is the exact same quality that now attracts some very well organised thieves. It’s like a great big Meccano set. It holds it’s value like no other vehicle and is soon going end of life. All that seems to have exacerbated the problem to a level where if you don’t take measures to protect your Land Rover, you might as well leave it in the street with the engine running.
If someone is coming to get your Defender it’s almost certain they will have visited once before and will have a good idea of what security you have fitted. They may even tamper with it in advance, to make subsequent theft easier. It’s simple to search the various UK forums for advice and security gear and magic ‘theft proof’ devices are numerous and varied with devotees claiming theirs is the one to have.
Here’s a little secret though: none of these precautions work. None of them make your car theft-proof. At best they delay the thief a few minutes; at worst they give you a level of confidence wholly unjustified by the device. With bolt cutters or an angle grinder or if your Defender is very posh, a low loader, none of the devices are going to help you for long. The simple and sad fact is, if they want it, they are having it. So where does that leave you?
I think the concept of a vehicle tracker is relatively old news. I’d guess that you would think them the domain of your supercar owners with expensive installation and yearly costs. As technology and communications have progressed however, that’s no longer the case.
It’s surprisingly simple and pretty damn cost effective and is largely based around mobile phone technology. I know there are many on the market but let me show you one that seems to tick all the boxes.
I’ve installed the £299 Visionaire system from Carrotech – a tiny GPS device with a mobile sim. What first attracted me was the low cost of purchase and very low cost of ongoing use, especially when compared to the popular skytag. But it was only when I started to play with the very user-friendly Internet interface that I realised the true power and convenience of this system.
Once installed (buried very deeply somewhere in your Defender’s soul, with its own backup power) the device monitors and records details of every journey you make. Using simple drop down menu options you can then ask the device to advise you either by email or text if anything specific happens. The list is long but things like the battery being disconnected, the car leaving your home address or even predetermined speeds being exceeded can all be recorded and trigger an action. Email and GPS is the first avenue for this messaging but if that fails for any reason then the system will text you details. All this for just £72 a year! Yep just £72. Rather pleasantly I found that when I told my Insurance Company I had this tracker installed my premium went down by £25 so in theory to have my Defender monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year whether I’m in the country or not, it’s costing me £47.
For me the purpose is to recover my car if it were ever stolen but I can immediately see how you might want to install this in the car if you have kids who have just learnt to drive and want to ‘borrow daddy’s car’ for the evening! If that isn’t enough to have you ordering this brilliant little device already, wait until you see what else it does. It actively monitors where the car has been and overlays that on a combination of OS and/or satellite maps. The tracker software records it all and although I’m not sure how long the data is retained, I was able to check a route from a year ago quite easily – and see my average speed, how fast I drove at what time etc., etc. Okay, maybe that’s a little ‘big brother’ but still a feature I quite liked!
I’m sure I’ve only scratched the service of what the system can offer. Given the possible uses and at an initial purchase price that’s not much more than the cost of a good service, can you afford not to fit a tracker?
I know various insurance companies are offering a similar feature. In exchange for a cheaper insurance policy for young drivers, their driving style is monitored using a device like this. I’m not sure that I like the idea of some faceless corporation monitoring whether my darling daughters are tearing round the streets – but I’ll tell you what – Daddy sure would like to know!!