How I Plan To Stop My Car From Being Stolen While Pumping Gas

Have you been hearing about this latest issue where people are having their cars stolen literally right out from under their noses? Yesterday, I saw a video about this particular incident below that happened a few days ago. A woman had just finished pumping gas into her SUV and was replacing the gas cap when a thief jumped into her vehicle and drove off with her SUV, her handbag, and everything else she had in her SUV at the time. Thankfully, her children were not inside and she didn’t get hurt. The gas station where this incident happened is located a little north of Wrigley Field in Chicago, but this crime is happening in a lot of other places, too.

 

After watching several videos about this kind of car theft, which appears to be on the increase, I started thinking about how I could prevent falling prey to something like this. I wonder if criminals are less likely to try this if the driver is a man since I’m guessing most men keep their car key/fob in their pocket. If their car doesn’t have keyless entry and is started via a key or a key remote, I’m guessing that most guys place the key into their pocket as they exit their vehicle. If you’re a guy and reading this, please leave a comment and let me know if that’s what you normally do when purchasing gas.

I wonder how many women do that, take the key, key remote, or keyfob with them when they get out to pump gas? If I had to guess, I would say, almost none. If wearing a dress, a woman may not even have a pocket in which to place the key. My car has keyless entry and my key fob lives full-time inside a little accessory pouch inside my handbag. I never have any reason to get it out unless my car is being serviced.

I keep (and maintain) my vehicles for a long time—usually between 11-18 years. My last SUV was 14 years old when I sold it to buy a new car, and it required a key to start. It did have “remote lock” on the key, but to start it I had to insert the key into a little keyhole inside the car. Whenever I bought gas for that vehicle, I always laid the key down on the passenger seat before getting out.

 

That SUV was so old, I doubt anyone would have been interested in taking it. My current SUV is fairly new and it does have keyless entry. Since it’s a newer model, it could easily be a vehicle that thieves would target.

Garage Floor Mat, Non-slip

 

So here’s my plan to try and avoid becoming a target when buying gas: When I pull into a station to buy gas, after turning the car off, I’m going to get my key fob out of my handbag. I’ll walk around to the opposite side of my vehicle where my gas tank is located and open the little door that hides the gas cap. Then, I’ll lock the vehicle. Once it’s locked, in quick succession I’ll press the lock symbol on the fob twice more. That disables the keyless entry system so if a bad guy runs up and pulls on any of the four door handles, none of them will open.

After practicing this a couple of times in my garage, I discovered that if I only locked the doors but didn’t disable the keyless entry system, a bad guy could still open the front and back doors on the passenger side since I would be standing just 2-3 few feet away, pumping gas. But if disable the keyless entry entirely, there’s no getting into the vehicle until the “unlock” button is pressed again on the key fob itself. Pressing the unlock button on the key fob returns the whole locking system to the way it was, restoring the keyless entry function.

I think this system will work for me since during the winter I normally wear pants/jeans or a jacket with pockets, so I’ll have a place to stash the key fob while I’m pumping gas. During the summer, I’m normally wearing shorts that have pockets. Having a pocket to store the key fob in is important since I would not want to get my handbag out of the car and try to juggle it while trying to put gas in my car. Even if I was wearing a crossbody bag, I wouldn’t want to risk bumping the bag into the gas hose or something else and staining it. So I will continue to leave my handbag inside my SUV where I think it’s safer anyway, but I’ll remove the key fob from my bag, and I’ll be sure to lock the vehicle in the method described above that completely disables the keyless entry during the period that I’m pumping gas.

If you live and buy your gas in an area of town that is normally very safe, you may still want to think about always locking your vehicle and taking your key fob with you when you exit your vehicle to pump gas. If I were a bad guy hoping to steal an expensive vehicle, I would head to gas stations located in the more upscale areas in hopes of finding newer, more expensive vehicles. So I doubt any place is safe from this type of crime.

I know this isn’t normally the type of post I would share, but since this crime is on the increase and so easy to prevent by just being aware and taking preventive action, I wanted to share how I’m going to handle it in case you find it helpful. If you want to know how to disable your keyless entry completely, check your manual, call your service technician, or do what I did and just do a quick Google search for how to do that with your particular vehicle.

Even if you don’t disable the keyless entry while you’re pumping gas, just taking the key or key fob out of your car and locking it when you stop to pump gas would be better than leaving it inside the vehicle. I was surprised to see how easy it was to disable the keyless entry on my SUV using my key fob, so I will do that when gassing up my car, as well. I really don’t like that we even have to worry about stuff like this, but I’d rather be safe than watch my vehicle drive off without me. If you would like to see videos of how car thieves are pulling off this type of car theft, check out the plethora of videos you’ll find on YouTube here: Auto Thefts In Gas Stations.

 

See you tomorrow for Tablescape Thursday!

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Comments

  1. Another thing I do….when I get in my SUV…is lock my doors! Years ago while stopped at a red light…a guy tried to get in my vehicle! (long before automatic locks & key fobs). I thankfully, had the doors lock inside manually. It really frightened me…so I keep my doors locked…even when driving. My husband usually gases our vehicle up…but if I do happen to do it….I lock my doors & have my fob on me. On another note….I can’t believe how many people don’t lock the doors to their home…whether they are home or not! We live in the burbs…and keep our vehicle & home locked at all times. I grew up in a time when doing either was not required….but the world has changed.

    • Absolutely! I do the same thing for both car and home and we live in a small town and now it’s a habit I use when traveling as well.

    • I had that happen to me too. I was in the city and a young college age looking kid ran up like he was being picked up and tried to open the door. Another time in the same area, I hadn’t finished parking when a young man, well dressed, wearing expensive glasses, wanted money. I always lock my doors.

  2. Thank you so much for this informative post. I have an old car, 2005 Cadillac Escalade and so no keyless remote. But I do leave my keys in the ignition as I get out to pump gas. Now I will take my keys with me and lock the car. Though this isn’t your typical post, I am sure you will help prevent car thefts. I will share this on my Saturday Meanderings post this week. The more informed we are, the less this will happen.

  3. Hi Susan,
    I have ALWAYS locked my car and kept the key with me when getting gas. I’ve never understood why anyone wouldn’t, especially these days. I no longer carry purses. When I did, I hid under the seat. These days I carry a small body bag that’s secured around me and I can attach the car key to the strap and I keep my house key in my pocket.

  4. I park my car in my driveway. I cannot see the car from inside the house. Unless the windows are open, you can’t hear any noises from the driveway. From our bedrooms, you can’t hear the garage doors go up and down. So, after a number of cars in our part of town were broken into or stolen, I took my garage door remote out of my car and I now keep it in my purse. If thieves were to get into my car, I don’t want them to have easy access to our house.

  5. Carol Trimble says

    I always lock my car and have the key in my hand or pocket…. Buy my gas at Costco because when I go there is usually an attendant there ….. be safe everyone!

  6. Mary Jane says

    I have taken my key out of my car and locking the doors while getting gas for years. I read about a lady being called up to the pay station after she had paid for her gas and was returning to her car . She could not imagine why, but when she got back up there the person said that he saw someone get into her backseat! I lock my car immediately after getting into the car even while leaving my house. I always leave my car fob in my purse, get it out for getting gas even though it is a nuisance.

  7. I would NEVER leave a key in the car! Luckily here in Oregon workers pump your gas so women do not exit vehicles. But I would not leave key inside when leaving vehicle. Just common sense.

    • Same in NJ! I was in my 40’s before I had to pump my own gas in a nearby state, and yuck, I’m so happy I don’t have to deal with that on a a regular basis.

  8. This is the kind of information we all need to read. The first thing I do is lock my car when I get in, but I never even thought about what I would do to keep someone from stealing my car at a gas station. WE all need to do anything we can to help keep us safer in an unsettling world today.

  9. Barbara Stebing says

    Yes, you should always lock your car these days when fueling, driving or just sitting in a parking lot, we ladies are not safe anymore.
    Remember if they ever do try to steal it while you’re pumping gas, you have a weapon; the gas. Pull out the nozzle and hose them down! It could save your life.
    Also, always stay alert, don’t forget to watch who’s around you.

  10. SharonFromMichigan says

    Most crime is committed with “convenience & opportunity” in their mind. Never leave anything of value in your vehicle (locked or unlocked) that you couldn’t live without. Never put up a fight if they want your vehicle, purse, etc. – your life is priceless compared to physical items. As a female always lock your doors whether you’re driving or doing a quick stop into a store, gas station, etc. Unless you have a vehicle like mine – I have an old Jeep stick shift with a ragtop. I never lock it because it would be more damage if they sliced through the roof than if the doors are unlocked and nobody out there knows how to drive stick shift anymore (lol). I used to drive my Jeep into downtown Detroit everyday and leave it unlocked in the parking lot – other cars got broken into but they left mine alone. The only item of value in my vehicle is my small stash of quarters for my shopping trips to Aldi 🙂

  11. Thank you so very much for this post. I am always thinking about what I would do if I were to be in this situation. Never tried the double click after first click–heading to the garage now. Thank you again!!

  12. I always learn something new from your posts – Big thank you! I didn’t know about pressing the lock button twice. I follow a former FBI lady and she advises to always lock all your doors whether you are in your car or house or away from home. She even says that if you have to re-enter your home for something you forgot to bring for your outing, lock the car and house doors behind you – get your item – re-lock the house door then get into your car and immediately lock all the doors before you even put on your seatbelt. She also said if someone throws dish soap or eggs on your windshield do not use your windshield washer fluid or your wipers until you are in a safe place or you may not be able to see to drive your car due to the smear created. Last, once you are in your car do not get back out to remove a paper on your windshield – drive away to a safe place first. Parking lots provide lots of hiding places. You just never know who might be watching you.

  13. I use to leave the key in the car when pumping gas. After all, I was right next to the car so what could happen, right? Now I take the key with me. I think the extra step of locking the car is a good one. We not only need to think about car theft when pumping gas, but also when you are in a parking lot loading groceries and packages…when you are distracted. What a world we now live in. Years ago I had my car stolen from a parking lot. It was low on the totem pole with the police. They kept saying it was in the river or burnt up in the backwoods! What a mess it was getting it retrieved from the towing company.

  14. Wow – great post! Thanks for bringing this to our attention, especially the potential solution. I always learn something from you, whether tablescapes or theft prevention! 🙂 See you tomorrow!

  15. I bought a new Equinox last year (my trusty Impala was 14 yrs old….loved that car), and one of my stipulations was to have the gas tank on the drivers side….for safety reasons, I did not want to walk around the vehicle. I normally have my dog with me so I always make sure my car is locked but I didn’t know about the disengage lock idea. I can’t wait to try it! Thank you for addressing this serious problem. We can never be over safe.

  16. Mary from Virginia says

    I live in an area where lots of cars are stolen. For years i’ve been locking my car and taking keys with me as I fill up the gas tank. People are crazy!

  17. I am the woman who always took her purse with the key fob in it when I exit the car, even to purchase gas. I was always afraid I would be the one person who could lock their keyless key in their car by leaving it in there. And I usually double lock the doors because chances are I have a whiley grandchild in the back and I don’t trust them either, lol.

  18. Connie Stark says

    Hi, Susan!
    Here is another solution…
    Amazon sells a “Faraday Bag” for Key Fob protection. You can find it here: https://amzn.to/4aaZOp5
    I haven’t personally tried it yet but according to the reviews, it works and I’m ordering it today.
    Hope you find this helpful!
    Thank you for all the wonderful information and tips that you pass along to readers like me! You are the best!
    Connie

  19. Biodynamic Barb says

    Thank you for this ‘head’s up’!

    Another ‘solution’ to this problem would be to buy gas from a full service station where you never leave your car.

  20. Sandra D, Jol says

    Wow, great stories and tips from you and other reader. I always lock the house and car. I was a latchkey kid so learned to keep the door locked. As an adult I read about people talking to you while an accomplice goes in the other door. I always turn off my car & lock the door. I locked my dog inside once and he jumped up on the door and locked me out. Had to call my Mom to bring me her spare I gave her. I don’t think my keyless can be turned off-it’s not in the manual so I’ll ask the guys when I get my next oil change in April. I always take both fobs with me and wondered what I would do if someone came along to car jack me while I was out pumping gas because the fob wouldn’t be far enough away. I just thought I’ll hit the panic button. I’m an hour away from Chicago and always had to worry about crime. My relatives in small towns down south leave everything unlocked. “They” say crime is down but not from what I’ve been reading. Nationally and in my town, it seems like it’s up. Maybe murder is down but everything else seems to be up or being reported more. I’m such a skeptic though. I wish we still had full service stations like the one woman said they had. I remember those days when customer service was much better than today! I no longer waste time answering surveys. I think if I seen an improvement it would be worth my time but I don’t.

  21. Thankyou so much for all the tips in this edition of your trusty blog. I hope I am doing everything right and you do try to think of everything. I don’t even get out of my car in the garage unless my garage door is closed all the way. People have become degenerate and will stop at nothing to rob or hurt you, The lovely neighborhood we moved in 30 years ago is getting some seepage from a nearby city so we need to make a move soon. I hate to leave my beautiful home but it’s time (sadly).
    Oh I also plan to vote for someone tough on crime, We can’t do this alone!

    • Not to make light of very serious changes in our beloved neighborhoods, but we recently downsized when three of our children in law enforcement, told us it was time to move further out…. so we did…. then I got to call my kids, and tell them after we moved into a delightful new area…… that one of our new neighbors got busted for growing pot on the patio!!! We knew all the officers involved in the arrest… 😉

    • Sandra D, Jol says

      I plan on voting come hell or high water too! After watching that illegal boast and spread the word about taking over homes, close the border. You can’t stop it 100% but it’s ridiculous to see border patrol helping with “daycare” and then I seen videos where they cut the wire so they could get by. Now we have 4 that dismembered two bodies-not sure if they were citizens or not but we have enough bad people without taking on bad ones from other countries. I wish I could move-too close to Chicago.

  22. Excellent suggestions in these comments. A few years ago as I was leaving a grocery store mid-morning I used my fob to unlock my car. By the time I walked around to the driver’s side, got in and reached to lock the doors a man opened the passenger door and got in. Nothing bad happened, but he was clearly mentally unstable. I was able to get out of the car and start screaming and he ran away. The police were called and he was apprehended and sent for a psych evaluation.
    When I got a new Volvo a couple of years ago, the service manager asked how I wanted the key fob set up. He set it up so the unlock on the fob only unlocks the driver’s door so the situation I went through with that man couldn’t happen again with someone getting in the passenger door. Yes, if someone is with me they have to wait until I unlock their door, but that only takes a second.
    I thought of myself as a careful and aware woman and that experience made me doubt myself. We all have so much on our minds these days it’s easy to get distracted. Keep your eyes open and trust your instincts if something doesn’t feel right. Stay safe out there ladies

  23. Franceil Parde says

    It makes me shake in my boots!! Our police Dept is actually “handing out” steering wheel bar/lock… HOWEVER…one “has to take the time to use them!” EVERYONE is in such a rush…for EVERYTHING…crazy isn’t it…franki

  24. I usually carry a crossbody purse. Since I keep my cell phone and fob in a secure location in my purse, I simply put my purse on before exiting my vehicle, press the lock bottom on inside of my door and proceed to gas up. Everything I need is on my person and my vehicle is locked. This is also made simpler as I have a push-button lock on the exterior door handle. I never have to remove my fob from my purse. I’m loving all of these ideas to stay safe! We need to all be aware and think proactively.

  25. We are a law enforcement family. Too many people store junk in their garages instead of their more valuable cars. Clean out the garage. Lock the car in the garage, lock the garage. If you are building a new home or remodeling, skip the “people door “to outside from the garage. Lock the house door to the garage. We have a sensor in our bedroom that let’s us know if the garage door is opened. We live in a reasonably safe area, but we still lock the doors all the time. Try to avoid a visible ramp to your home for elderly or handicap, because it is a indication of vulnerabilities to passersbys. If we need one, it will be installed thru our attached garage.

  26. Clorinda Beitelspacher says

    I have a keyless entry too. I keep my fob in a hair tie thing with a secret zipper compartment sewn in it. Then I can just grab the hair tie and put it on my wrist when I need to exit my car. It works great.

  27. I always lock my car when I pump gas, holding g the keys somehow, pocket or otherwise. My car is old, but I will have keyless entry disabled if and when I upgrade. Thank you memtioning that. In a post apocalyptic world (are we heading that way with behavior????), it’s all about who can defend what theirs best. A good PSA post!

  28. Luckily, I drive a very small car (a Prius) and pump my gas less than 4ft from my driver door. As Mr T said, I pity the fool who tries to take my car. I would be on him like white on rice. And wouldn’t it be a shame if I accidently turned the gas nozzle on said fool in my adrenaline rush?

    A lady needs to be prepared for the worst at all times. Please, ladies, take a good self defense class. Many local police and sheriff departments offer them. They do not advertise them for obvious reasons, but will let you know when and where they are if you call them. You will leave with confidence that you can defend yourself and your children or grandchildren if necessary.

  29. I wanted to let you know that just before Christmas a woman was delivering a box of candy to my husband’s office. A car pulled in and parked right next to her. When she got out of the car she left her purse in the car but took her fob and locked the car. While she was in the office she watched as a man got out of the other car, smashed her window and took her purse! The police said criminals watch at gas stations to see if women take their purses when they get out of the car. They assume every woman has a purse and then they target them, sometimes following them to other locations. The bad guys were caught but it was a very scary experience for her.

  30. Great info. You know, there are about a million things to consider when purchasing a car. My gas tank is accessed from my driver’s side, so thankfully, I’m just a few feet from the door. Now that will be something I always consider when buying a new vehicle. And yes, I always take the key when I get out, but I’m shocked at how many people will walk away from their cars with the door open, purse on the passenger seat and kids in the back. The worst thing is leaving their kids vulnerable. 🙁

    • Unfortunately, that doesn’t always stop them. I saw one video where the woman was standing on the driver side since that’s where their gas tank was and the thief jumped in her car right in front of her.

  31. Elinda Turner says

    Susan,
    I mostly wear pants so I keep my knee fob in my pocket. When I get out to pump gas I lock my vehicle. Time I get back in I hurry and lock the doors.

  32. Elinda Turner says

    Susan
    That was supposed to be key fob not knee fob in my previous post. Also I want to mention I do have a concealed carry. My life would have to be endanger to ever use it. I obtained mine in 2020 after a scary encounter happened to me. I realize this is not for everyone. My mother was in law enforcement for years then she was a judge. I have been around guns most of my life. I never fired one until I took my class. I do not have any small children or grandchildren to worry about them being around a hand gun.

  33. I live in New Jersey. We cannot pump our own gas.

  34. The key fob protector mentioned above is a REALLY good idea……..I think you can improvise your own with aluminum foil or metal cans, google it. I read where thieves now have electronics where one thief goes to your front door, his device picks up the signal from a fob left by the door and it transmits to his partner next to your car, he can start the car and they take off with it!

  35. Understand that with keyless fob even if you lock it and are in the vicinity with fob in your purse anyone can unlock door because sensor is close enough. Did not know about double clicking lock to prevent. Will see if that works on my car.
    When travelling I put fob in faraway pouch while we are in hotel to prevent theft. Range for robs can be pretty large.

  36. I’ve heard about this problem. I live in a small town, so haven’t experienced this…but I know closer to the bigger cities it is a problem. I still take my keys out the ignition and since mine are on a wristlet, I put them on my wrist and pump my gas. But my gas tank opening is on the drivers side, so I’d see if any one tried to get into my car. Mine is old though…14 years old, so doubt highly if anyone would want my car. Plus I don’t go much at all and only need to be gas about once every 4 months and then when I do, I’m still usually at half a tank or slightly under. Still, one can never be to careful. So yes, be careful Susan…you have a desirable new SUV! Loved all the helpful tips everyone has! Hugs, Brenda

  37. We live in a different world today. Do not stereotype crooks. I hate being a nontrusting person, but here we are. I not only lock my vehicle, but pay inside when I get gas. If you use a credit card vs debit, you can challenge charges easier. I live in a small suburban neighborhood near the police station. Means nothing. I have terrible neighbors capable of anything. Last year, they saw me put the garage door opener in the house, walk around the house without locking the door, and stole it.
    You would never believe it looking at this family. Older people living alone are subject to not just crime but bullying. You can’t just up and move in this economy and at my age.
    As a side note. Check the batteries in your fob if it’s older.

  38. Ann Butler says

    Anywhere is Chicago is just crime ridden anymore and is a beautiful city, I have not been there in years. Every time I get gas I have my keys with me, pocket or no pocket never did it any other way. My gas door is driver side I lock the doors when I get out to protect my purse in the other front seat. I rarely get back in the car while fueling either, yup even when bitter cold. Habits you have to get into but just practice. Also always be aware of who is across from you or behind/infront of you getting gas. Be safe everyone.

  39. She’s on Instagram: dannah_eve

  40. Cheryl Frizzell says

    Great hints from everyone. We recently bought an all-electric vehicle; love that there are no more trips to the gas station!

  41. Cyndi Raines says

    Thank you Susan. I take my fob with me, hit the lock on the door but will check that it locks all doors. Also will no longer put my purse in passenger front seat, actually have been using a small cross body most of the time, so may make the change permanent. I always keep vehicles locked even if in my own driveway and also keep locked in the garage which is not attached to the house. Yes, always be aware of your surroundings, pay attention. Also, keep house locked if out in yard working. Good informative post!

  42. I have to laugh. It’s funny you brought this up because I’ve been looking to replace my car and a pet peeve of mine, for years now, is when the gas tank is accessed on the passenger side. I have never been a fan and I will not buy one. Sales reps look at me shocked as I tell them I will not even test drive those types of vehicles. Then they start to press me and I almost lose my patience with them and I start going down the list: “It’s not safe for women and elderly. Unless we live in the U.K., where the driver is already on THAT side of the car, it’s not needed.” …and so on, and so on.

    • Well, unfortunately, it doesn’t really matter which side it’s on. I saw one video where a woman was pumping gas and the tank was on the driver’s side. The thief hopped into the driver’s seat right in front of her. She tried to stop him and he drove off with the gas pump thing still stuck in the tank. It flew out and slapped her across her face pretty violently. If a thief is desperate enough, he won’t care if you’re standing there. They would probably be more reluctant to try that with a guy, but I think they know they can overpower most women.

  43. Susan Hill Whetstine says

    I have a keyless entry car also and when I get out of it I lock it and put the key in my pocket.

  44. Sandra D, Jol says

    I came back to read the great suggestions and I have one of my own. I found this nifty item on Amazon “Faraday Bag for Key Fob (2 Pack), TICONN Faraday Cage Protector – Car RFID Signal Blocking, Anti-Theft Pouch, Anti-Hacking Case Blocker” so they can’t steal the signal or whatever they do. $ 12.99 is today’s price.

  45. Sandra D, Jol says

    Susan, I also found a key fob pouch that comes in several colors! I love the purple and pink. Might as well be cute as well as functional. The links are rather lengthy so I just copy and paste the heading. Teskyer Faraday Key Fob Protectors, Super Signal Shielding Anti-Theft Faraday Bags, Car RFID Signal Blocking Pouch, 2 Pack Small Size 3.3″ x 4.7″, Lichee Pattern Lilac

  46. Try to remember most fobs have an alarm on them.
    I live in a small neighborhood in an urban area within walking distance of downtown. Years ago, someone stole my locking gas cap. Recently, (and I know who it is) someone was stealing my gas and was so bold they put that old gas cap back on and stole the newer one. Be careful about trusting neighbors or their children.

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