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What To Do When Your Car is Broken Into

Updated: Mar 28

It’s a terrifying moment when you realize you’ve been the victim of a car break-in. So, what do you do when someone has tried to break into your car? Sometimes you get lucky and the thief only took a screwdriver to the door to try and break-in. But your security and your car now being compromised is less than comforting.

Take it from your local Portland locksmith: if someone has broken into your home or vehicle, first things first: notify the local authorities. Check and see if your neighbors have security cameras or if you’re lucky enough to keep a dash camera running, take a look at the footage for any helpful information. Next is where we come in. It starts with a simple phone call—we at 24 Hour Lock and Key have worked with quite a few clients who have had break-ins on a weekly basis.

Some of the more frequent calls that we get at 24 Hour Lock and Key is an ex or an old roommate keeps breaking in, “they took my spare key and keep stealing my car.” “someone tried to start my car with a screwdriver” —"what do I need to do?” Luckily there are a couple of options available to you, all of which leave you feeling 100% safer.

The first option is to have one of our local Portland or Vancouver locksmiths come right to you and reprogram your keys. With newer cars that require what are called transponder keys (keys that need to be programmed to your car’s computer), our trained locksmiths carry specialized equipment that is used to reprogram your car keys so that none of the other keys will work—or an “all-keys-


lost” reprogram. One of the questions that we get on a daily basis when customers call in about transponder keys is “do you have to program my key?” And the answer is, we do. They chips in our keys are actually an additional security measure that started being added back around the year 2000. So, if you have a chipped key that isn’t synced to your car’s computer, in short, it won’t let you turn on the car. Essentially the chip talks to the computer in your vehicle and lets the ignition know that it isn’t a copied key which could indicate that it’s been stolen. For more car key information read our answers to Common Questions About Replacement Car Keys.

As a second option, especially with older cars that don’t require a programmed chip-key, when your car has been broken into or someone has stolen your keys, our professional auto locksmiths can simply change out your ignition and get you a brand-new standard metal key. This would mean that you would have a separate key or remote for your doors and trunk than you would for your ignition, but it does mean that your car stays exactly where you parked it.

The Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington areas are getting bigger and bigger every year. With the growing population we have unfortunately also seen a massive increase in car burglaries as well. Did you know that according to national and local crime statistics, Portland is one of the worst cities in the country when it comes to how many cars are stolen per person in the city? According to data from the Portland Police Bureau, there were 7,562 cars stolen in Portland from January 2018 to January 2019.

While it may be slightly lower than recorded break-ins from 2017-2018 (a record-breaking year of 8,073 car thefts in Portland), we’re still ranking fifth on the list of most cars stolen per population. With a 53 percent increase between 2012 and 2017 (National Insurance Crime Bureau) we’re doing everything we can to make sure that our local Oregon and Washington communities can rest assured that their cars stay right where they were left.

So right about now you’re probably wondering, with break-ins on the rise, how can I stay protected? There are lots of ways to try and prevent a car break-in or theft:

1. Purchase a car club lock or a steering wheel lock. The club is a long bar that when locked together makes moving the steering wheel practically impossible. The other great thing about having a steering wheel lock or a club is that it can't be removed because it's too large to be slipped around the wheel.

2. Keep a clean car. Sometimes the easiest solution is also the best one. If it doesn’t look like there’s anything to steal from your car, chances are most people will go right by it. Careful of keeping loose coin change out, or clothing items like tennis shoes, coats, and blankets.

3. Installing a security or dash camera system. When someone tries to open your door and an alarm starts to go off, most aren’t going to stick around to get caught—and if they see a sticker advertising that you have an alarm system, most thieves won’t bother with the potential attention. DashCam’s are another excellent way to record thieves as a way to identify or pursue the person who-done-it.

4. Park in Well-Lit Areas & Lock Your Doors. Like we mentioned above, sometimes the easiest solutions are also the best. If you can park in a well-lit area where you know there are security cameras, or take the take to make sure that each of your doors are locked, most thieves will be deterred by the additional hurtles to get inside.

Hopefully you are never the victim of a break-in, but in the event that you are, our licensed and bonded Portland OR locksmiths at 24 Hour Lock and Key have your back. We always have a locksmith near you, standing by and ready to help.

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