Vehicles are more secure than they have ever been, with manufacturers always trying to keep one step ahead of the criminals. But there is still an easy way for criminals to get into a car or van and that is by stealing the keys to them first.
Obviously, this is a nightmare scenario for drivers: that moment of realisation that your keys are no longer in your pocket or handbag and have gone – or have been taken from inside your house – is a sickener. It also means you have to work fast to ensure your vehicle isn’t stolen and is made secure again as soon as possible.
But what is the best way to do this? Our guide gives a rundown of the major things to consider.
Panicking is the worst thing you can do as it achieves nothing and takes up valuable time. Try to keep a clear head and think about what you need to do.
Firstly, try and secure your vehicle as best you can. If you have a steering wheel clamp, then use that. If you can box it in with other vehicles, for example, that can mean that if the thieves come back to steal the vehicle, it won’t be able to go anywhere.
Note – doing nothing is not an option. If your keys have been stolen and you decide to chance it and don’t do anything to make the car secure again, it can invalidate your insurance policy, meaning that the insurer won’t pay out if your vehicle is stolen.
Report the theft
Call the police and report your keys have been stolen. By doing this you can also get a crime reference number so you can track the progress of the case. If there are officers in the area, they may spot the thieves trying to find your car.
Get some quotes
If you have the time, it is worth ringing round a few auto locksmith companies to get quotes on how much the work will cost. There are plenty of firms around, some part of big companies, others are local self-employed locksmiths, and the charges they have will vary. Always make sure you get a quote up front too, just so there are no nasty surprises once the work has been done.
Call an auto locksmith
You need to make your car secure again as soon as possible, and to do that you need new keys. And the best people to call are auto locksmiths. They have been trained to work on all types and makes of cars and vans and the keys they use and carry with them all the equipment they need to carry out the necessary work while you wait.
The first problem could be getting into the vehicle itself unless you have a spare key to hand – but not everyone does. However, an auto locksmith gain access to a within minutes without causing any damage thanks to the specialist tools they carry on their vans, which are exclusive to the locksmith industry.
Once they have access to the inside of the vehicle, they can, using specialist diagnostic tools that they carry with them, tap into your vehicle’s ECU and delete all the data relating to the old keys.
The auto locksmith can also deprogram key fobs. Many key thieves are opportunists, stealing keys from bags or pockets, so they often don’t know what vehicle they belong do and will walk up and down streets in the area clicking the key fob looking to see a set of hazard lights flash. When the fob is deprogrammed, it won’t do it.
The auto locksmith will then be able to cut and program a new set of keys for you, including a new transponder chip. Auto locksmiths carry with them a wide range of blank keys, so it should be possible to make a new key for almost any make or marque of car or van on the UK roads today.
The new key’s data will then be programmed into the car’s memory so only those keys will now open and start the vehicle. This means that your vehicle will be secure again and the thieves have useless keys.
In addition, if it is an emergency, a local auto locksmith can be with you – wherever you may be – within an hour, sometimes even within 30 minutes, depending on your location. Many auto locksmiths offer a 24-hour callout service so even if you have your keys stolen at the end of a night out, you can still get your vehicle secure again quickly.
Do you need new locks for my vehicle?
It depends. Usually with modern vehicles, changing the keys and the reconfiguring the locks is all that is needed. Sometimes a replacement lock is needed, especially if the vehicle is older, usually pre-1995 or without an immobiliser fitted as standard.
Call your insurance provider
It is always a good idea to call your insurance provider. Some providers offer key protection as part of a policy – others have it as an optional extra – so they could be able to contribute to the cost of calling the auto locksmith out. However, before you do anything, it is worth checking the terms of you no claims bonus and whether claiming over stolen car keys will affect it.
How much does it cost?
Calling an auto locksmith out to change stolen keys isn’t the most expensive repair you can have, but the charge does vary. It will depend on how complex the key/lock system is, which can be down to which marque/model of vehicle you have and how old it is – and charges can vary quite markedly.
Auto Locksmiths are one of the most competitive companies in the area on price, but we always go the extra mile on the quality of our work. If you have had your car keys stolen, call one of our team now for a quote and to arrange for one of our qualified professionals to come out to your location.