The unique £45,000 Defender was hidden by thieves under dense undergrowth but recovered in less than 24 hours
At approximately midnight on 30th June 2021, Nigel Bale from Cheshire discovered that his Land Rover Defender had been stolen. This is no ordinary Land Rover Defender, it is a personalised memorial to Nigel’s Godson, a British soldier who lost his life in Afghanistan. To protect what matters, Nigel had the foresight to have it fitted with a stolen vehicle recovery solution from Tracker, an investment that saw the priceless vehicle recovered by Yorkshire Police less than 24 hours after it was taken.
On 9th February 2011 Nigel’s godson, Private Conrad Lewis of the 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment, became the 353rd British soldier to be killed in Afghanistan. In his memory, Conrad’s parents set up 353, a charitable trust aiming to deliver long-term support to the military community and those affected by conflict. Conrad’s Godfather, Nigel, dedicated the Land Rover to Conrad’s memory and to help raise awareness of 353; the 353 logo is stitched into the roll top leather dash, the parachute regiment emblem is featured on a rear external panel and the word ‘REMEMBER’ poignantly replaces ‘DEFENDER’ on the bonnet leading edge.
"Understandably we were all utterly devasted when we realised the Landie had been stolen,” said Nigel Bale. “Despite the shock, I immediately contacted Tracker to report the theft, who in turn alerted the police and the search was on. I cannot describe our relief when we heard it had been located. To many people it is just a car, but to us and Conrad's family in particular, it represents so much more, so its theft was a hugely emotional and stressful experience for us all. We are absolutely over the moon to have it back in one piece and cannot thank Tracker and the West and South Yorkshire Police enough.”
The search was led by PC Tim Scothern, a Field Intelligence Officer for South Yorkshire Police’s Operational Support Unit, and a highly respected traffic police expert appearing regularly on TV programmes such as Traffic Cops, Sky Cops and Police Interceptors. Tim commented: “Soon after Tracker alerted us to the theft of this Land Rover the team at HQ was able to confirm a location. We immediately deployed two Tracker-equipped cars to find and recover the vehicle.
“Knowing the background of the Land Rover and its immense personal value to the family, the team was really spurred on to find it as quickly as possible. However, whilst we have located and recovered many stolen vehicles over the years, this one almost eluded us. It’s not unusual for thieves to steal a vehicle then leave it parked somewhere to check if a tracking device leads police to its whereabouts. In this case, the Tracker signal told us that the Land Rover wasn’t taken far from where it had been stolen, but it was exceedingly well camouflaged under dense undergrowth. Without the teamwork between Tracker and South and West Yorkshire Police, and the onboard Tracker tech in our police cars and helicopters, it is highly unlikely we would have recovered this irreplaceable vehicle.”
Steve Whittaker, Police Liaison Manager at Tracker, commented: “This invaluable Land Rover was well protected by its owners, with two tracking units installed - one being a Tracker unit, and a removable steering wheel and a factory fitted alarm, the thieves were determined to steal it. Whilst the GPS only tracking unit failed because its GPS signal was blocked, Tracker’s unique VHF technology makes its units resistant to GPS/GSM jamming. In turn it enables the police to pinpoint a stolen vehicles no matter where it is hidden. Working closely with both the West and South Yorkshire Police, we were able to locate and recover the Land Rover and return it Nigel before the thieves had a chance to ship it abroad or strip it for parts. Without the Tracker, this story could have ended very differently.”