If you've ever had your car keys stolen then you are definitely not alone, and every day 53 other people in the UK experience the same thing, following a break in to their property.
In fact cars are rarely broken into now and the days of someone being able to hotwire your car are long gone. Due to immobilisers and advanced locking mechanisms and alarms thieves are becoming more innovative and will try to steal your car keys instead.
According to the AA (http://www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/security/keys.html) recent claims on insurance policies in included the following:
- Stolen while the owners were asleep at night
- Stolen while owners have been in the garden or have 'popped out for five minutes
- Left in front door locks
- 'Fished' through the letter box or through open window fanlights
- Taken following comprehensively burglary of the home, and the family car used as a getaway vehicle
- Stolen from a family's home while they were on holiday and used to take three cars from a locked garage
- Stolen from workplaces, gym lockers and changing rooms
- Quietly picked out of unwatched bags or pockets
- Stolen by way of threats, muggings or car jackings
So if you have had your car keys stolen, what should you do?
1) Make your Car Safe
If thieves have stolen your car keys, the likelihood is that they will have been walking around the area near to your home or businesses trying to locate your car.
In the short term you should try and immobilise your car if you can. If you don’t have a key then:
- Open the car bonnet, remove some spark plugs or fuses
- Ask neighbours to block the car in with other cars
- Put a wheel clamp on the wheels
If you have a spare key then:
- Park your car far away from your work of home
- Put a steering lock on your car
2) Call the Police
If you’re sure you’ve had your car keys stolen then call the police right away and make a police report. Be sure you get a crime reference number as well as this will come in handy for your insurance claim further down the line.
Give them as much detail as you can and try to think of anything out of the ordinary that may have happened recently, to help with their investigation. They can also advise you on further safety and precautions you can take if you are still worried.
3) Call an Auto Locksmith
An auto locksmith will be able to help you even if you don’t have a spare key. They’ll be able to get you back into the car and then re-programme it so the stolen key will no longer work. An auto locksmith will have diagnostic equipment, which will let them communicate with the immobiliser and remove any stolen keys or remote locking devices, to secure your car.
After this they will then be able to cut you an identical replacement car key, which will be put into the immobilisers memory and be the only key that can gain you access to your car. If you’re lucky enough to find the other key later on, you can go back to the locksmith and ask them to add this to the immobiliser’s memory as well.
You could also opt to change the locks entirely as well, however, that would be a more expensive option and some insurers may insist on this.
4) Call your Insurance
The next thing to do is to call your insurance to check if you are covered for the costs of replacing/reprogramming the locks.
Insurance policies can vary wildly so be sure to check the T’s and C’s before you claim and you have 3 potential places you can claim:
- Check with your car warranty provider – sometimes car key replacement may be included in the policy
- Check with you breakdown cover provider
- You can also get specialist car key cover, who will more than likely cover any costs you incur
According to Gocompare who reviewed 237 comprehensive car insurance policies:
Policies covering lost or stolen keys generally cover the costs (up to the sum insured) of locksmith charges, new locks and replacement keys. Some policies also cover car hire charges and transportation of your car to the nearest repairer. Policies also differed in their approach to whether claims impacted on a driver’s no claims discount and whether an excess would be applied"
If you've had your car keys stolen from your home then generally you will not be able to claim on your home insurance, however, the general principle should be to check all policies that you are holding, and see whether it is worth claiming or not.
How to Prevent Your Car Keys Being Stolen?
If you’ve had your car keys stolen, then you’ll realise that the whole process is a bit uncomfortable, but there are some very simple things that you can do to stop this happening again:
- Don’t leave your car keys in obvious places in your home. Try to hide these away somewhere.
- Don’t leave your car keys near to your front door, as they could be stolen via the letterbox
- Don’t leave your car keys visible near a window
- Don’t leave you car keys on the same key ring as your house keys
- Never leave a bag unattended, especially if it’s obvious you have you car keys in there
Do I Need to Change my Locks?
If you have a modern car then in most cases you won’t need to change the locks. An auto locksmith should simply be able to re-programme the immobiliser and give you a replacement car key.
Some insurance companies will insist that you replace the locks entirely, if you report your car keys as stolen, however, this doesn’t happen so oftern.
If you have an older car that does not have a set of programmable keys, then you will be safer to get the locks changed, otherwise there is nothing stopping a thief from entering your car.