We’ve all locked ourselves out of our cars at one time or another, right? But there’s something even worse when it comes to cars and keys; something that most of us will never experience. That something is having our car keys stolen.
If this ever happens to you, don’t panic; there are some fairly simple things you can do to protect yourself and regain your peace of mind.
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Having your car keys stolen can be merely a minor inconvenience to some. To others, it can be a nightmare compounded by the fact that most of us carry our house keys on the same key ring. If we keep our car’s registration or insurance card in the car, it then becomes possible for the thief to easily find out where we live. If the thief then has both our car and house keys, we become extremely vulnerable no matter where we are.
What’s the first thing I should do?
The first thing to do is immediately call police as soon as you know your keys have been stolen. Fill out a police report with as much detail as possible, including trying to think of anyone you know who might be motivated to steal your keys. Include as much information as you can; every detail counts in a police investigation.
After you file the police report, the officer will probably advise you as to whether or not you need to take certain safety precautions.
From there you should call your car insurance company to see if you’re covered for replacement locks. If your key ring also contained your house keys, a call to your homeowner’s insurance company is also in order. Both insurance companies may cover the cost of lock replacement, or they may not. But the only way you’ll know for sure is by contacting them and asking the question. If they do, at least that is some benefit.
Do I need to change my locks?
If your car is a newer model with computer chips embedded in the car keys, you will probably not need new locks. Instead, you’ll be able to go to a local dealer who sells cars from the same manufacturer and have them reprogram a new key for you.
This is probably the cheapest way to go, although you still might be charged a couple hundred dollars. If your car is older, and programmable keys are not part of the equation, you’ll need your locks and your ignition changed.
As far as your house locks are concerned, whether or not you need to change them depends on several circumstances. First of all, if you rent an apartment or a home you’ll need to contact your landlord and allow him to make the decision about your locks. He may decide to have them re-keyed or replace them altogether.
If you’re a homeowner, you have the option. In all likelihood you’ll probably choose the cheapest one, and that’s okay.
If you’re using heavy-duty, expensive locks, it may be cheaper to have a locksmith come out and re-key them. If you use less expensive locks with deadbolts, it may be cheaper for you to simply go down to the hardware store and buy replacements.
Regardless, changing your home locks is probably vastly more important than changing your car locks. With your home, your personal safety, as well as that of your family, is at risk.
Is there anything else I need to do?
The last thing you need to do if your car keys are stolen is pay attention to suspicious people who might be hanging around. Even after your locks have been changed the thief may not necessarily be aware of that fact. You may see someone suspicious in the neighborhood, or in a public parking lot, giving you plenty of reason to be anxious.
If you are nervous at any time, you should err on the side of caution and call police.
You should also keep your eyes open for your keys just in case it turns out that you really misplaced them. If that ends up being the case, you’ll need to report that to the police as soon as possible. Don’t worry, everyone makes mistakes. The police will not have an issue if you inform them that you found your lost keys and that they weren’t stolen after all.
The only way you’ll get in trouble is if you found your lost keys and failed to inform the police, causing them to continue with a fruitless investigation.
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