Tailgate Theft – A Growing Concern, and How You Can Protect Yourself

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Is there anyone lower on the evolutionary chain than car and truck thieves? How about the lowlifes who steal your pickup’s tailgate right out of your driveway while you are sleeping at night?

That’s right – the latest trend in oddball vehicle component theft, after the recent run on catalytic converters (stolen for the small amounts of precious metals they contain), are tailgates. A recent report in The Detroit News chronicles the growing scourge of this type of theft that targets not just individual owners but also dealerships whose inventories contain hundreds of trucks.

Fighting Tailgate Thieves

Tailgate theft has become such a major concern in parts of Michigan that dealerships are being forced to either house their pickups inside overnight, or back them up against walls in order to give thieves as little room as possible to work with. Some dealers are even removing tailgates from their trucks until such time as the vehicles are actually sold, storing them separately and creating an eyesore on the lot. Still, the problem remains a big one, and police in Detroit say that they have yet to actually catch anyone in the act or recover any of the stolen tailgates that have already been liberated from their rightful owners.

Why Steal Tailgates?

The question is a good one – why have thieves decided to steal tailgates? The answer, as with most issues surrounding car part theft, has to do with a thriving black market for the body panel. Some tailgates can cost well over $1,000 from the factory, which means that online sales or classified ads where buyers ask few questions have helped to create an easy environment for thieves to move their wares. If demand for stolen parts disappeared, so would the theft – but human nature being what it is, seeking out the best possible deal often gets in the way of asking ethical questions like “why am I paying 1/3 of the retail price for this nearly-new tailgate?”

It is also very, very simple to steal a tailgate, with some models popping off in as little as 15 seconds. With no need to actually break into the truck and risk setting off an alarm, stealing a tailgate is one of the quickest types of theft around.

How Can You Protect Your Own Tailgate?

If you are worried about tailgate theft spreading to your community, or if you already know someone who has had their pickup truck tailgate stolen, then you are probably wondering how you can protect yourself from this type of targeted theft. Not everyone has the ability to park their truck inside a locked garage every night, and in recognition of this fact there are now several aftermarket tailgate protection options available to pickup owners.

Tailgate Sentry installed.

Tailgate Sentry costs $24.95 and consists of a locking mechanism that installs without the need for any drilling or cutting holes in your truck’s sheet metal. The lock includes a steel case for the tailgate’s pivot point, a special tool for locking and unlocking the tailgate as well as a tamper-proof mechanism that protects the tailgate from removal regardless of whether it is open or closed. Pop & Lock also offers a tailgate lock that comes with an OEM look, but which is priced substantially higher – between $60 and $70.

The Pop and Lock kit.

Either way, it’s hard to argue with spending less than $100 to protect a tailgate that can cost as much as $1,600 to replace (on the Toyota Tundra). A tailgate lock can help prevent you from becoming a victim of this type of theft and keep you from trolling Craigslist for a replacement tailgate of your own.

Filed Under: Auto News

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  1. Speedster says:

    Does locking the tailgate on the Tundras not prevent this? I understand if it is not locked, but has it been an issue with locked one too? I think Chevy is the only truck now that doesn’t come with a locking tailgate, I know that Ford and Toyota do. The Tacoma doesn’t though.

  2. Mickey says:

    Hose clamp or a zip tie does the job. Hose clamp would be the one of choice being inexpensive and it takes either nut driver or screwdriver to take off in order to get tailgate off. No need to pay $25 for that lock.
    Speedster you can lock the tailgate but if you don’t have a hardtop to lock with it the thieves can still work through the tailgate lock if need be. Like my truck has a soft tonneau cover on it and they can just peel the cover up and still have access to the mechanism that locks the tailgate. Personally I have a zip tie and I leave my truck in the garage. Also when parking somewhere I back in so the tailgate would be against a wall. You got to think ahead of the thief.

  3. Mickey says:

    Also forgot the advance driving school I been a teacher for states it’s better to back into a spot than to pull in. You have less blindspots, and you don’t back into traffic. You pull into traffic.

  4. Mickey says:

    Jason I do give you Kudo’s in finding this. Tundra’s tailgate theft been around since 08 when thieves found out how easy it was to take them.

  5. Danny says:

    i know this may be a lil off subject, but wasnt there an issue with the tailgate falling off if left open while driving? with that said, will the hose clamp fix that issue too?

  6. Mickey says:

    Affirmative. By putting the clamp on it you can’t take it off. So it won’t come off going down the road.

  7. Jason (Admin) says:

    Speedster – Yes. If you lock it, it’s probably not walking away.

    Jon – LOL. Great link. Thanks. 🙂

    Mickey – Fair enough. I think a hose clamp is the way I’d go, but any time we see a product that’s interesting we like to try and mention it.

    Danny – The tailgate can fall off if it’s left down and there’s no weight on it. The clamp will definitely help to keep this from happening, but I don’t know if it’s 100%.

  8. Stick says:

    Jason-Thank you for posting this. I always keep my tailgate locked and didn’t know there was more I can do. I appreciate you

  9. Mickey says:

    That’s good Jason. The lock wouldn’t scratch the paint where the hose clamp may do that. That’s if anyone hasn’t line-x etc. the bed.

  10. TXTee says:

    I’m a bit more protected on the tailgate because of the camper shell. I always leave both locked, even in my driveway at home. And Mickey, thanks for bringing that up about backing into spots. I typically do that. What pissed me off is a neighbor across the street that I asked to stop blocking the driveway directly behind if possible because of the other vehicles in the garage that struggle when backing out. The b@stard had the nerve to ask me why I needed to back my truck in. Told him because it’s my driveway and it’s much easier to drive out instead of backing out and potentially running over his child or the cars he kept parking directly across from my driveway. Shut him up real quick.

  11. Mickey says:

    Way to go girl. You tell him. By backing up in the driveway and other parking spots you don’t have to worry about anyone around you when you leave. I always back in and also I have to back into my garage since I use the single bay of a three car garage.

  12. TXTee says:

    Good ol Wal-Mart is best to back into or take two spots (one in front of the other). I park far and somebody still has to try parking next to me.

  13. Benjamin says:

    TXTee – I agree, no matter how far away I park, someone always needs to get as close as possible to me while I am inside shopping.

  14. Jason (Admin) says:

    Stick – For sure. Benjamin did all the work! 🙂

    Mickey – Didn’t think about paint scratching…good call.

    TXTee – Isn’t that Murphy’s law of parking? LOL

  15. […] Tailgate Theft – A Growing Concern, and How You Can Protect Yourself […]

  16. Richard says:

    Well, it happened to me in Dallas Texas. F250 2012 XLT…. I AM PISSED!

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