Protect Your Tailgate Against Tailgate-Jacking

Tailgate shot II

Some criminals are making a pretty good living stealing full-size pickup truck tailgates and selling them to less reputable repair shops for big money. The theft strategy seems to vary quite a bit by region, but several suburban newspapers have reported as many as six tailgate thefts per month. Local truck owners, in some cases, have taken to securing their trucks in locked garages or backing them up tight against building walls. 

Depending on the make of your pickup, replacement costs alone for a basic full-size truck tailgate, in extreme cases, can cost thousands of dollars. Once you price out all the sheet metal, hinges and separate parts that each need to be ordered individually, things add up quickly. Of course, you may want to get it painted at a body shop as well. That's more money. And if your tailgate had a camera or a tailgate step, you can figure on double whatever number was in your head.

McGard tailgate lock

It's worth it to be careful, but there are other choices as well. In some cases, you can buy a replacement locking latch mechanism to replace the factory one without a keyed lock, but not all pickup trucks offer the option. An easier precautionary measure might be buying an inexpensive tailgate lock like the one offered by McGard (pictured above). Something like this costs around $20 and is easy to install. Of course, there are all sorts of choices that vary in price and complexity that may better serve your specific needs.

We'll be at SEMA in Las Vegas next week, so we'll keep one eye open for all sorts of clever problem solvers, like the tailgate lock, to bring to your attention. Stay tuned.


A hose clamp works well, too. not quite as tamper resistant, but enough of a pain to make mr thief move on. Fortunately my (bare bones) truck came standard with a locking tail gate.

@Mark Williams - Thanks for the heads up. Good article that's relevant to all of us who own pickups.

Good article, I have a locking tailgate already, but a hose clamp works well too.

Even with a locking tailgate, I don't think to lock it when I go to a parking lot most of the time.

Of course it might also help that my tailgate is so severely dented that nobody in their right mind would want to steal it.

All I have to say is "Well my glove compartment is locked so is the trunk and the back" and since I have tonneau cover my beds functions like a really big trunk sometimes when load isnt too big.

Bully makes the Tailgate Pad Lock #LH-090. Summitt Racing sells them for about $18. Here is a vidoe of the installation of it.

Don't think that the tailgate lock that comes from the factory will keep your tailgate from being stolen. It only slows them down about 30 seconds.

yeah i think a hose clamp would work better then this plastic china junk. smack it with a hammer it break easy, make it out of steel it might be worth the 20 bucks till then a 1 dollar metal hose clamp would probably work better

Wonderful society we have in the USA, thieves steal everything that isn't bolted down.

If we has a country really tried to address our simple behavioral and sociological issues we could actually live "free". But for now secure your compounds and any assets you might have.

WORK is every bit as much a deterrent to crime as dogs, guns and cops. In the late '80's I was living in Houston when the new Chevy trucks came out with the spare tire winch. Guys with the new chevys were getting spare tires stolen right and left but everybody else with the old crawl under and unbolt the tire hanger system, no problemo.

I have my tailgate lock wired in with my door locks, one press for doors and a second for the tailgate. It's an autolock I believe, no keys it is installs inside the tailgate behind the handle.

I guess this happens on the newer trucks a lot more because of the "man step" and people with older trucks and jealous Chevy fans want the "man step"???

Hose clamp + lock-tite + JB weld the screw = Should be pretty secure I would think.

Unbolted the Torx reciever for the cable eyelet and reattached with the eyelet trapped then torqued it super tight.


I have been putting off the simple "hose clamp lock" for a long time. Maybe I better finally do it before it becomes too late?

@ zigto,

It's they entitlement society,people want things without working for it ! In school/sports today there are no failures/losers anymore,everybody gets a trophy or passing mark because they think they deserve it..they get welfare lifelong,food stamps,they were taught if they want something ..take it !!

This has been common for years. Years ago the local Ford dealership lost 20 odd tailgates in one night. I've driven by the Chevy lot and a some trucks were on blocks with the wheels missing. A year ago the Dodge dealership had a whole bunch of cats stolen from their Cummins trucks. They even had dozens of vehicles with built in DVD systems broken into. Who says crime doesn't pay?

They're stealing catalytic converters around here right now. They're cutting them right out from underneath the truck. Apparently the materials are worth something, I don't know but it's ridiculous.

...or you could just live out in the middle of nowhere with a rusty, beat-up tailgate no person in their right mind would steal to begin with.

I was parked at an ATV riding area one day and rode back to my truck just in time to see a guy run away from my truck, jump on a dirtbike and take off. Honestly thought he had just stopped to pee behind the truck till I noticed my tailgate half off. I learned then to always keep my tailgate locked all the time. It would be convenient to have it wired into the door lock though to work from remote. Maybe Chevy can do that and then Ford copy it like everything else lol ;-) Do all the Big 3 have locking tailgates now? Wonder if we could patent the idea bout integrated locks and make a buck?

Good article. close family friends tailgate was stolen three days after he bought the Ram 2500, that was in '04.

Gate keeper nice product just purchased for 2012 Tacoma.

I always lock mine. F' that! I got Mr. 44 as well.

Tamper proof hose clamps... avaiable at most discount auto parts stores for around $2.99 for a three-pack fits this well LOL

oh that's right some American automakers don't have locking tailgate standard..... It's the 21 century lets be honest, locking tailgates should be standard on even crap grade trucks.

With a bad economy it appears that theft is on the rise. In N. KY and Cincinnati people have had catalytic converters stolen at the park and rides, at the shopping centers, and in their driveways. They use battery operated saws and in a few minutes the converter is gone. The churches have had their air conditioners stolen for the copper. Just the other day on the news a group of thieves dressed as repairmen got on top of the roof of a strip shopping center and stole air conditioners in a blue panel van in the daytime. At first onlookers thought they were repairmen.

You can get a locking system for your catalytic converter, too. Truck U on Speed Channel showcased them a couple of years ago. Seems like a decent set-up as long as it doesn't rattle.

The key is to deter theives. If they really want your tailgate or cat, they're gonna get it. Make your truck a hard target and they'll move on to something easier and less protected. I like this tailgate lock idea, but its a crying shame that we have to resort to this to protect our vehicles in this day and age.

Any chance of PUT.C providing a full feature on security for pickups ?

Pop & Lock. nuff said.


Thanks for the information!

I'd like to add another hot item thieves are going for are radiators for the copper in them. Harder to get to under a locked hood but not to hard on a parked tractor or work equipment. My grandfather had one cut and unbolted from his Kubota tractor.

I don't know if all states to this but in Delaware all scrapyards are now required to get your driver license info from you with your name and pic on it. Not saying someone could show a false one but if you start shopping around a lot of unique car parts its going to raise flags. Makes it easier for the State Police to track them down.

This phenomenon slays me. Jason H., you are da man.

My old F-150 had such a battered tailgate that other 150 owners would give me the hairy eyeball if I parked too close...they figured I'd be the thief!

Same for the relatively new Silverado I now trucks don't tend to get the tailgates swiped. Another good argument against putting too many doo-dads into vehicles meant to do work. That is what trucks are for, right? Getting used and dinged?

Sure be nice to have some razor blades and sharpened fish hooks just waiting for the nutjob, on the bottom side of the tail gate, in the dark... Better than fishing.

@ Shawn: Alabama has the same law, due to the copper theft issue. We have had many churches, businesses and even a school along with many homes that had air conditioners vandalized. Unfortunately funding has prevented very good enforcement or there are a lot of shady scrap yards around. I can understand (not condone) a lot of crimes, especially ones that are relatively harmless to anyone but the criminal. I cannot stand a thief! I, along with most everyone else work for our possessions and someone who is too lazy to work to get anything is no benefit to society in my opinion. I think some old testament style retribution would do a lot to deter a thief. Especially after the second offense. lol. I imagine it would be difficult to steal much of anything with no hands.... I suppose that would be cruel and inhumane to thieves, or not very politically correct, not to mention entirely too simple and logical in today's society.


That sounds good to me!

There are many incidents of robbery in our block recently. I want to keep my pickup truck secured with this lock. Has any one tried it?

Can anyone send me some pics of a Dodge pickup 2009 and 2010 truck tailgate. My father in law said his was stolen and I wanted to check the pick and pulls in the area. I need some help my husband is taking forever to get this done please help. Also I still don't understand how they got it off he lives in a nice quiet area. He has a grey truck so a cheap part in that color is hard to find and he is on a fixed income. I feel sooooo bad. Please any information would help. Please.

If you get the right tight ordinary padlock that should be enough. Just have to cleverly chain it on both sides with through bolts. Also your cats you can chain them also. IF tight enough no one will attempt to cut a chained or band around a cat especially tight and 1/8" or thicker.

The McGard lock is built around a hose clamp, but adds the pattern/security drive and key. It also has a polycarbonate housing (yes, plastic, but a durable plastic). It's NOT made in China. It is made in the USA. It adds security, but NOTHING is theft proof.

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