624: Unlocked

A Thousand Things to Talk About
624: Unlocked

Do you (or would you / have you) purposefully leave your keys in an unlocked car?

Full episode script

If you’re old and nerdy enough, you likely at some point listened to Car Talk. That particular show’s hosts were both proponents of the idea of never locking your car. After all, if someone wants to steal your car or steal something out of your car, then having locked doors is not likely to get in their way, the thinking goes.


And it seems lots of people follow that line of thinking. A news story from Silltwater, Oaklahoma reported that, quote:

Car burglaries have been on the rise, and Stillwater police are urging car owners to lock up. “These cases are for the most part crimes of opportunity,” police Capt. Randy Dickerson said. In April, police took 37 reports of burglaries from cars. All but three of the cars were unlocked, Dickerson said. This month, 18 car burglaries have been reported so far, and 14 of those vehicles were unlocked.


It’s not just in the United States, though. As was reported in the Globe and Mail, quote:

“Unfortunately, people leaving their keys in their vehicle and having the vehicle stolen is pretty common in Saskatchewan, according to what we hear from police agencies,” said Kelley Brinkworth, media relations manager for Saskatchewan Government Insurance.


But – does leaving your car unlocked actually mean that your vehicle is less likely to be stolen? As CityLab reported, quote:

Rick Brown, deputy director at the Australian Institute of Criminology, has written a couple scholarly papers about whether locking cars is effective. In one, he found 15 out of 16 studies performed across the world (including the U.S.) concluded that locking does indeed reduce vehicle theft. Research in the U.K. has shown that a car with power door locks is two times less likely to be broken into, he says. Meanwhile, a car with an alarm, power locks, and now-standard electronic immobilization is six times less likely to be burgled and 15 times less likely to be stolen.

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.