For Christ’s Sake, Stop Leaving Your Keys In Your Car

A Mini Cooper key on a Mini lanyard with a Mini keychain on it

The keys to the Mini Cooper with a keychain in the form of a car seen during a flash mob. Fans of the Mini Cooper brand in Moscow and the region joined the international flash mob “I LOVE MINI” for the ninth time.
Photo: Alexander Sayganov/SOPA Images/LightRocket (Getty Images)

If you’re reading Jalopnik, then you probably love your car enough to avoid mixing it up with another in a parking lot, but a Montana man recently did exactly that when he mistook a random red Honda CR-V for his and drove off. Vincent Zepeda was allegedly in a rush to pick up a pizza, but when he jumped into his car and started backing out, he noticed a strange dog in his back seat. Zepeda realized that an identically specced red Honda CR-V had parked next to his car, and despite the stranger’s car not having a roof box or a hood protector like his own, he had hopped in, started it up and driven away.

Most folks know to lock their cars and take their keys when they leave, but it’s likely that people in the rural state of Montana have fewer fears about vandalism than most. With most modern keyless start technology, cars will start when the start button is pressed as long as the key fob is inside the vehicle. The car doesn’t know if you’re the rightful owner or not, it only knows that its keys are inside.

I grew up in a metropolitan area where you learn quickly to keep your car doors locked and keep valuables out of sight, but I’ve been to places where that’s out of the norm for folks. Even if you live somewhere with a low crime rate, it’s best to lock your doors, and regardless, it’s best to take your key fob out of your car when you park.

Thieves have creative ways of breaking into and stealing cars, and some experts even recommend against leaving your car’s key fob on a hook by the door or on your kitchen counter. That’s because they have ways of intercepting your key fob’s radio frequency and using it to access your car even if it’s locked, and your key is safely inside. Still, the best way to keep your car and everything inside of it safe when you’re not around is to lock your doors and take your key out of the vehicle with you. Don’t make it easy for someone to steal your car, or worse, a furry friend you’ve left behind to nap while you grab a pizza.

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