Security Tip: Tailgate Party Crashers


By Matt Kern, Security Committee

Hardly a week goes by without a social media post alerting us to the theft of another neighbor’s tailgate. It’s a crime that is on the rise; keep reading to see why and tips for prevention:

  1. It’s Simple: Stealing a tailgate only involves opening the tailgate, unhooking the cables and lifting from the hinges. It’s a process that takes less than one minute!

  2. Big Payoff: The time invested to steal, post online and sell is as little as 15 minutes for an approximate $300 return!

The cost for an OEM replacement, matching paint, installation, etc. is often greater than $1000 to the victims when options like backup cameras are included. Even filing through insurance claims will leave a victim out of pocket a deductible.

We can deter tailgate thieves but there are no perfect solutions to stop a dedicated thief with the right tools and enough time. Deterrents include:

  1. Parking: Trucks parked in streets are easy targets. When possible park in driveways or behind locked gates. It is also preferable to back up to a house, building, fence, etc. to inhibit opening of the tailgate.

  2. Built in Handle Locks: An easy and reliable solution is to lock tailgates using the built in handle locks provided on newer vehicles. If thieves cannot open it they cannot steal it. Make it a habit to relock tailgates after use.

  3. Aftermarket Hinge Locks: There are a number of aftermarket devices that install over the hinge which are intended to mitigate removal of the tailgate. We tested the Master Lock 8253 and the Bully LH-090. To our disappointment both allowed the relatively easy removal of the tailgate on a 2000 Chevrolet Silverado. The primary issue with these two products was that the tailgate hinge was much smaller (1.375”) than the locks (1.750”) and this left a notable gap which still allowed removal of the tailgate.

  4. Hose Clamps: The cheapest option tested was the installation of a $2 hose clamp around outside of the hinge. This option worked surprisingly well and prevented easy tailgate removal. While standard hose clamps, installed via screwdriver, can be easily removed, the use of a clamp with a detachable key makes removal more difficult.

  5. Hose Clamp and Lock: The preferred aftermarket solution of those tested was the combination of a hose clamp (with removable key) followed by the installation of the Bully lock on top of the hose clamp. This prevented the removal of the 2000 Chevrolet Silverado tailgate via the hose clamp while also preventing the easy removal of the hose clamp which was blocked by the Bully lock.

Again, no solution is impenetrable but using one or more of these options may just deter a thief looking for an easy target. Just make certain to test your chosen solutions. Happy tailgating!

We welcome your comments, feedback, specific testing questions and other possible solutions. Please email those to