Kevin Baldwin – contributor
It was only a couple of months ago that I was telling you about the spate of Defender thefts in the West Yorkshire area which had reached such epidemic proportions that it had prompted the local Police to implement a stop and check policy on any Defender, night and day. I reported that although this hadn’t seemed to deter whoever was responsible, thankfully my 90 had managed to escape the attention of the local ‘TWOC’ers’. That’ll teach me…
For the first time in 25 years of motoring I’ve become a car crime statistic, with an insurance claim, another first for me, for my stolen Defender Td5 90. Ironically, it wasn’t at home where the Defender was stolen. Instead, a Holiday Inn car park in Northampton was the last known sighting of my 90. And it was the first time K3MUD had been outside West Yorkshire in months! As I sit here typing this two weeks after the event, I’ve finally resigned myself never to see it again.
Yes, it was locked; yes it had an immobiliser fitted; and, yes, the car park had CCTV, although clearly the immobiliser was as much a deterrent as the Holiday Inn CCTV, which, for the record, revealed nothing despite there being only one way in and out of the car park…
I’d owned the 90 for only 12 months and although it was a very well spec’ed truck, I had actually spent very little money on it myself. All the modifications had been fitted by the previous owner, although aside from the external cage you’d have to look pretty hard to spot them. And that was one of the things I liked about the truck. It wasn’t fl ash, nor bling and didn’t shout ‘off-roader’, but it had enough of the crucial bits fitted to make jumping into it and driving to the south of France to take part in an off-road event a no-brainer decision that would require the bare minimum of preparation.
And last November that’s exactly what I did. The prep for the Mille Rivieres event (4×4 February10) consisted of swapping the tyres onto the bargain priced M/Ts I’d managed to pick up and fitting a CB radio. Job done, we drove the 800 miles to the Mille Rivieres start line in the Ardeche, tackled 450km on the event and then drove home without the hint of a problem. Well, my shiny 90 managed to pick up a few battlescars on the bodywork, courtesy of the, at times, spikey and dense vegetation, which I’m now glad I didn’t waste time sorting. There’s nothing like an extended spell behind the wheel of a vehicle to cement a relationship between man and machine and that would be the event where we would become best friends.
That’s the thing about having it stolen that sticks in the throat more than anything. The fact that you’re reading this magazine means that, chances are, your 4×4 will also mean something a lot more personal to you than the couple down the road with the people carrier will ever understand. All the little stealth modifications I’d made were exclusive to my car and my car only. The North American spec filler cap, the LED interior lamps I shipped in from the US, my neat mini Maglite holder and the hidden power socket were all personal touches. All unique identifiers that would signal my truck out as no-one else’s but mine. Not that I’m sitting here waiting for that call from the Police to attend a Land Rover identity parade. I know it’ll be in a thousand pieces by now, or running around the Moscow suburbs. But if an Epsom Green Td5 90 with a full cage and a nasty scratch on the driver’s door has recently showed up in your neighbourhood, please drop me a line…
As a timely postscript to this piece; as I sit and type these words, I’ve just heard from former 4×4 editor John Carroll that his beloved Defender 110 pick-up was stolen from his house overnight. Like I said, there’s a lot of it about…
Model: 2002 Land Rover Defender
Spec: 90 Td5
Test MPG: 23mpg
Total costs before theft: Stereo & speakers £175; new tyres £200; re powder coated cage £60; wheelbearing £30; various bits ‘n’ bobs £100
Arrived: July ’09