• Mar 29, 2011
The Detroit News reports that tailgate thieves are overrunning southeast Michigan, costing truck owners and insurance companies between $1,200 and $3,600 per theft. The problem is so bad in part because stealing a tailgate only takes a few seconds when unlocked, and under a minute when they are locked. Thieves can reportedly remove a tailgate using only their fingers or with the aid of a regular old screwdriver – no specialized tools are needed.

To combat this problem, some auto dealers are displaying their trucks sans gate, or parking those trucks right up against a wall so thieves don't have room to operate. Not even a law making tailgate theft a felony worthy of up to five years in prison appears to be scaring off thieves. St. Clair Shores, MI police detective Dave Centala adds that the speed of the crime makes thieves difficult to catch, adding "they come at night, make no noise and we have never caught one in the act or recovered the part." Centala tells the DetNews that five were stolen in one night in St. Clair Shores, and in other cities the tailgates are being stolen in chunks.

Tailgate thefts are nothing new, and The Detroit News is only reporting on thefts in Michigan, but given the ease with which tailgates are being swiped, we're inclined to believe this continues to be a problem on the national level. Owners looking to protect their trucks can purchase an aftermarket lock, or they can park their vehicle in a garage or in a spot that gives thieves little room to remove the tailgate. Hopefully automakers will tune into this situation and make stealing tailgates far more difficult in the future.

[Source: The Detroit News]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 26 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is not a new issue. I recall an outbreak of it back home, like 20 years ago.

      Tailgates (on true work trucks) take a beating. I'm curious if the market now is for their use as a tailgate,or as metal.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I do the hose clamp trick as well, maybe the extra 60 seconds will make them think twice.
      • 3 Years Ago

      Is there really this big a market for blackmarket tailgates? Or is it entirely the people who had their tailgates stolen buying them back from shady used part stores? (hey, the color matches perfect!) Or are they melting them down for the precious talegatium? Or making coffee tables or junk-art sculptures out of them? Cheap roofing material? Using them as sleds? Or just plain uncreative vandalism?
        • 3 Years Ago
        Double post, but I have to make fun of myself...

        Pretty much love the phrase "pretty much" don't I? Let this be a lesson kids, don't type a comment one sentence at a time between phone calls.
        • 3 Years Ago
        There's pretty much always a market for parts to common vehicles. Pretty much guaranteed someone has an F150 in a rear end collision not covered under insurance.

        Really though it's the ease of the theft that makes it common. Depending on the truck, it can be removed in as little as 15 seconds, and boom 100 bucks off craigslist, and pretty much as long as they aren't selling them wholesale, no one will notice. It's pretty much the vehicular equivalent of an unattended cell phone.
      • 3 Years Ago
      wonder why they have never stamped the VIN on em
        • 3 Years Ago
        Stamped/labeled/whatever ... a shady body shop would just bondo and/or paint over it anyways, and the one on the receiving end of it wouldn't care as long as it works. Such is a good concept on paper, but not a huge deterrent to thieves.

        If they want something bad enough, they will get it. For most thieves, though, anything that slows them down they'll look for an easier target.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I remember reading that GM designed their tailgate in 1999 to require tools to be removed.

      I guess it wasn't so.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Can't we just nuke Michigan already?
        • 3 Years Ago
        Why? Because they actually report a crime that happens all the time elsewhere too?

        Tailgate swipage is extremely common down here in Arizona too. I've had it happen, strangely enough, on my 1984 Mazda B2000. I mean seriously, who are you going to sell that to?!
      • 3 Years Ago
      If they are that expensive, put a GPS beacon in them, activated when the part is removed. Then use it to track the thieves, and give no leniency when sent to trial.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I was thinking along those lines. Except instead of GPS I was thinking packed with explosives and a remote trigger so you can blow it up if it gets stolen.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I was thinking the same thing. Make it part of a police sting operation. Use some dealer trucks as "bait" find the thieves and throw their butts in jail.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Buy a Ford F-Series... They come standard with a locking tailgate.
        • 3 Years Ago
        did you read the whole post? it only adds a few seconds to the time that it takes to steal it. Its under a minute either way. And im pretty sure every truck on the market has that as a very cheap option. and if you are lazy, get an avalanche, it locks automatically when you lock the doors, and it has a cover on top that would also make it a little more difficult to remove....but once removed, they can snatch the covers as well.
        • 3 Years Ago
        my dad's 2011 f250 tailgate got stolen in the time it takes for him to walk in the store, buy some gum, and come back out. it had a lock on it.
        • 3 Years Ago
        So do other manufactures.... however if you read that aritcle, even with a locking tailgate, it's still an extremely easy theft.
      • 3 Years Ago
      There's a surprisingly simple and cheap way to keep a tail gate from being stolen (or at least greatly reduce the likelyhood). Use a worm-gear pipe clamp to wrap around the tail gate hinge on the side that would normally allow you to remove it. Use a clamp that can only be adjusted with a hex bit (or strip out the phillips hole). I would think that it'd be very unlikely for a thief to carry around a set of sockets when they're stealing tail gates.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Is there really that big a market for replacement tailgates? I never would have thought so...
        • 3 Years Ago
        The used market is probably being generated by people looking to buy a tailgate after theirs got stolen.

        I was shocked at how easy it is to remove a tailgate on our Silverado we had a few years ago. All you do is detach the cables and set it to a 45 degree angle and it comes right off...
        • 3 Years Ago
        No - I'd say the majority of tailgates goes to scrap yards.

        There's been a resurgence in "recycling" during this economic recession - Unemployed folks go out and peel the plumbing and HVAC systems out of houses & buildings that are under construction/renovation - stealing tools off jobsites - appliances and plumbing fixtures out of foreclosed houses...
        ...and these things end up at scrapyards, pawnshops, fleamarkets, Craigslist - anywhere someone can get money for them.
      • 3 Years Ago
      They will only help stop it once it affects sales. Until then, they collect by selling more replacement tailgates.

      Around here in LA, it was doors off of the Jeeps, so many were missing.
      • 3 Years Ago
      That's why I got one of the McGard tailgate locks for mine when I bought it. It's just a bracket held on by a special keyed bolt, but it's kept mine on for a long time. Right after I bought my truck, I got wheel locks, a tailgate lock, and a spare tire lock.
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