Pickup Truck Break-in Prevention




Locked the keys in your pickup, far from home? Cowboys ain't supposed to cry, so make a simple tool on the spot from found materials that will let you in quickly and without damaging the vehicle, so long as the truck has a sliding rear window. I carry a more deluxe version of the tool in my truck and have used it to help other drivers in this predicament. Once you see how easy it is to break in, you might want to fix your window so no one with bad intentions can unlatch it, then hide a spare key to use if you ever lock yourself out. First photo is an interior view, with the window slightly open, of the kind of latch that can be opened with this tool, working from outside the locked truck. Second photo shows the boss on the interior window frame that the latch grabs to lock. To see my related Instructables, click on "unclesam" just below the title above or in the INFO box to the right. On the new page that appears, repeatedly click "NEXT" to see all of them.

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Step 1: Tools, Materials, Construction

The tool and a piece of folded heavy paper, the weight of a playing card, that helps prevent damage to the sliding window's weather seals. The solid-state linear computer provides a 12-inch comparison scale.

Tools and materials (deluxe version):
Wire, 8 1/2 inches long, from ordinary heavy-duty coat hanger
Pliers with wire cutter
Card stock, such as the cover of a school spiral notebook

Cut a paper strip 6 inches long by one inch wide, fold it in half lengthwise
Bend the wire to create two legs 3 1/2 inches long each connected by a length of wire 1 1/2 inches long, all falling in the same plane. File the wire ends round and smooth, and remove all burrs. Bend the end of one leg up out of the plane as shown in the photo, make a small loop in that end.

Step 2: The Objective

The latch looks like half of a spring alligator clip. The driver can reach back without looking, push on the tail of the alligator, which causes the mouth to open away from a boss on the window frame, then slide the window open. The boss prevents the latch from being opened from the outside by simply sliding something like a credit card in between the glass and its weather seal.
You want to insert the tool through the weather seal without damaging it then use the wire to push open the alligator latch's mouth enough to clear the boss. This photo, taken from outside, with the window open a little for clarity, shows what must be done, but done while the window is closed and latched.

Step 3: Paper Strip Protects Weather Seal

Push the fold of the paper strip in, between the sliding glass and its weather seal, several inches above the latch. Push the end of the wire that does not have the loop in between the two sides of cardboard, maneuver the wire end downward and farther in, then slip out the cardboard. Second photo, exterior, shows wire tip being started in, third is an interior view.

Step 4: Put Your Tool in the Alligator's Mouth

Wiggle and slide the wire into position as shown, with the end of the wire tip down into the alligator's mouth. Rotate the loop end of the wire outward in order to push open the alligator's mouth slightly, then slide the window open. Exterior view of the wire in place and three interior views.

Step 5: Prevent Break-in

You can prevent someone from opening your truck's sliding rear window with this tool by putting a wedge under the alligator latch's tail. A clothes pin illustrates, but I whittled a piece of scrap black plastic that does the trick and does not intrude into my rear view. I can feel it well enough from the driver's seat to remove it without looking back then open the latch and slide the window. I let the wedge dangle from the latch by a short string whenever the window is open, because the latch could be damaged if the window is slid shut with the wedge in place.

Step 6: Wedge the Latch, Hide a Key

If you wedge the latch on your sliding rear window to prevent someone from breaking in through it, you might want to hide a spare key in a magnetic box attached somewhere underneath your truck. Key and box are both available at auto parts stores and Wal-Mart. Once the box gets some road dust on it, it will be virtually impossible for someone else to spot. You simply need to remember that you have a spare key and where the magnetic box is located.

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    9 Discussions


    4 years ago

    Slimjims still provide the same problem. If you have oower windows or doors the person "helping" you, can dislodge or jam one of the plugs and then you have a $100.00 bodyshop bill to repair that problem also.
    Get a hide a key and put in a door key for the rig and your house. Wrap it well with waterproof tape and tape it where you can find it if you forget where you put it; like on a tie rod so you can see it but someone looking in the average places wouldn't see it.
    An angry girlfriend taught me the usefullness of that trick. Yes, I always carry a ignition key in my wallet.
    Think about your own best interest.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    The only valuable info I'm finding is how to prevent a break in. If you only lock your vehicle with the keychain dongle then you can't lock your keys in the vehicle period. Resist the temptation to use the switch on the door as you close it and develop the dongle habit. It will server you well. I've lived all over the country and am well over 50 years old and all my life I've offered help to those in need. I've even helped those who had keys locked in cars. Not once was one of those a pickup truck driver, much less one that happened to have a rear-slider. So I find the comment about "helping others several times" with this tool seems a bit untenable. That combined with all the wink-nod hints about hiding the tool *and* the slim-jim from cops obliges me to agree with the other poster that this structable seems to be more about how to break into other people's hard earned property. If this observation is considered "not nice" then so be it. I find the instructable to be "not nice" in its how to commit crime angle.

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    mgalyean, thanks for your comment, it provides me with a reminder to post a danger that has cropped up around the use of key fobs to lock your car, rather than use the key when you get out. At rest stops along I-95, thieves watch someone use the fob to lock their unoccupied car, the fob sending a new code to the car that would be used next time to door is to be opened with the fob. The thieves have a receiver that picks up the signal and can then transmit the new code to the car, unlocking the door while the driver is sure to be out of view for a while. The thieves calmly steal whatever is of value in the vehicle, then wait for the next sucker who locks his car using a fob.
    Thanks again, Unclesam


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Not true. Both ends of the link use identical random number generators and come up with the same next code independently. The code is never transmitted until the owner comes to unlock the car. At least that is how remote entry has worked for several years now. I suppose you might mean the ancient ones that only used one code all the time. And maybe there was some interim version that passed a new code back that I don't know of, but as for mine, your technique would just be a waste of time.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    my cousin had a truck that the back window didn't close so we could always get in


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I really enjoyed your instructable. i myself dont have a sliding rear window but think its great for the trucks that do.
    i just thought i would fore warn you though, i sugest keeping the tool hidden because if the police see it they consider it a break in tool and that is a serious charge.
    personaly i have a slim jim for going in the window and i use rare earth magnets to hold it in place in a hidden spot

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    kasualkiller, GREAT COMMENT! Thanks for taking the time to post it, I had not given any thought to that possibility. My window tool and my slimjim will definitely find a good hiding place.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    ....why is this titled as "break in prevention" when it's about steps to break in? i know that you say that if you know how to do this that you can take steps to prevent it...but the main purpose of the ible is to show HOW to do it

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Well he still shows you how to prevent it. He's explaining how this could happen to you. If you don't know how somebody can break into your truck then you might not see the point of ptting in the little wedge.