Jaguar Land Rover takes drastic steps to tackle car thieves

The Jaguar Land Rover car group is working with the police and upgrading secondhand cars up to eight years old to stop them from being targeted by criminal gangs...

Range Rover and older Range Rover Sport

The latest security initiative by the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) group is an investment of hundreds of thousands of pounds to pay for ongoing funding for the police to identify and crack down on organised crime networks involved in vehicle theft. It is one measure introduced by the firm to tackle car theft, which has soared in recent years, with Land Rover models among the most popular with criminals.  

By working directly with the police, JLR aims to disrupt the illegal trade in stolen car parts, and increase the policing of UK ports through which millions of pounds worth of stolen parts are regularly shipped abroad.

Keyless car theft

JLR’s own in-house security experts already work closely with the police, going out with them regularly to examine stolen cars that have been recovered to assess the methods used. They also share their knowledge of the hardware used to steal vehicles with the police so they can recognise it if they come across someone with it. 

This information will become more useful later this year when the Criminal Justice Bill becomes law and it becomes illegal to make and possess the equipment used for vehicle theft, including re-coding devices like the one pictured below. When this happens, the police will be able to prosecute anyone found with car theft paraphernalia. 

JLR theft tool

Electronic control unit software update

This latest measure adds a further £5 million to the £10 million vehicle software update first announced in November 2023 to secure the body control modules (BCMs) of secondhand JLR models.

So far, 83,000 vehicles first registered between 2018 and 2022 have been given the security upgrade, and it will now be rolled out to a further 368,000 vehicles, dating back to 2016.   

The 20-minute fix stops thieves from using devices like the one pictured below to programme a new key for a car via its onboard diagnostic port, and means that only the car’s two original keys can be used to control it. This makes the cars impenetrable to security breaches via the BCM. 


JLR theft tool

Land Rover reports that police forces are already seeing a reduction in the number of thieves using the BCM to try to steal all makes of cars, and it’s hoped this method will continue to decline. 

Land Rover is contacting owners of all vehicles registered from 2016-on on a rolling basis, but it is also urging owners to contact their local dealer to book their car in for the software fix. 

Ultra wideband keys 

JLR theft ultra wideband key

Relay theft is no longer an issue on the latest JLR models because they are sold with keys that have ultra wideband keys (pictured above left). These can detect the exact distance of the key from the car, and only allow the doors to be unlocked if it is right next to the vehicle. 

The reduction this had caused in thefts of vehicles fitted with UWB technology has been significant, according to JLR. It says not a single vehicle with UWB technology has been stolen, and those that have been claimed for on insurance were subject to different types of crime, such as fraud. 

JLR’s efforts are also having a positive effect on overall theft rates for the group’s cars, with thefts of some models down significantly. For example, thefts of the latest Range Rover Sport models were down by 29% in 2023 compared with the previous version. 

Thefts of cars fitted with UWB technology

Make and model
No sold
No stolen % stolen
2022-on Range Rover Sport 14,868 15 0.1%
2020-on Land Rover Defender 45,262 134 0.3%
2022-on Range Rover 12,810 11 0.8%

Walkaway locking 

To further enhance the security of more Land Rover models, the company is also expanding the roll-out of its walkaway locking feature. This automatically locks and alarms the vehicle when the key is taken 2.5 metres away from the car, meaning the car will be safe and secure even if the owner has forgotten to physically arm it. 

For convenience, the car unlocks automatically when the key is next to it, so there’s no need to press a button to open the car. This technology is already standard on the latest Range Rover, and Range Rover Sport, and it will now be added to the Evoque, Velar and Defender. 

Land Rover insurance 

In spite of Land Rover’s efforts, many vehicle owners have been struggling to find affordable insurance cover for their cars, especially in London, which is the UK’s car theft hotspot. So JLR has also launched its own insurance policy for owners. It is also working with the Association of British Insurers to provide them with the latest vehicle theft information to encourage their members to bring premiums down.  

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Read more: Most stolen cars of 2023

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