Why are most cars so easy to break into?

They sell “jimmies” (“slim jim”, “button lisfter”) at every auto parts shop.
Just slide it into the door alongside the glass, position under the button, lift, and the button pops up.
This is what the AAA uses when you call them when your keys are locked inside.
Helpful then, sure, but a real risk all the rest of the year.

Yet clearly this process is easy to block. Some cars simply put the button mechanism inside a sleeve or behind a guard bar so you can’t touch it directly.

So why don’t they all do it that way? Why isn’t it a law in the public interest?

I think you are missing some things:

  1. Most vehicles have transparent external view devices (windows) on several key areas of the car. Windows have to be made somewhat easy to break in case of accident and anyone that really wants to get into a car can simply break the windows.

  2. “Jimmys” have many legitimate uses as I am sure you are aware. I have been saved by one more than once. I prefer that to having to call a car dealer or break a window myself especially when it is cold outside.

Is this the reason or it would be cost prohibitive to make them ‘bullit proof’. I think the requirement is how it would break, not that it can be broken easially.

It think Shangnasty’s concern about making sure that the windows are breakable is more for scenarios like a firefighter who would like to extract your injured butt from the smashed hulk of your vehicle in a timely fashion so as to permit your transport to medical service providers.
If he can smash a window and extract you safely in that fashion, cool.
If you had an inch of Lexan [1] for all of your transparent automotive surfaces, all of a sudden it’d be easier for the firefighter to cut through your car door, or roof, or floor, than to break the da*ned window and start extracting you.
Since seconds matter for some auto accident survivors, bulletproof glass would be teh suck for pretty much anyone who isn’t more concerned about being shot than in a wreck.
By the way, my employer installs security windows in businesses. People in the industry always say “bullet-resistant” because bullets comes in all different shapes, sizes and powder loads.
There’s a difference between stopping a 9mm shell at 60 yards and stopping someone 20 yards back unloading a Browning machine gun at you…

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lexan

Some cars are more resistant to break in than others.
Most European brands are damn difficult, particulary the high end stuff. This is due to high theft of these cars in Europe. they are moved east into what used to be the iron curtain countries, and for all intents and puposes they are gone.
These cars have encased lock linkages and often sometimes deadbolt locks that cannot be moved without electrical power.
Compare that to say that model of Toyota truck where the hole for the door handle was so big, you could unlock the door from the outside using a pencil! :eek: I think Toyota had a service campain / recall over that one.
Shag many cars now have available as an option security glass. It is not bullet proof, but it is break resistant. With this style window, the side window is a sandwich glass/plastic liner/glass just like the windshield is. you can break it with a hammer, but the plastic sheet holds the pieces in place. Does make it harder for the casual smash and grab.
[funny story] I had a locksmith come into the shop one time just before Christmas. He had been working on using a slim jim on a Volvo off and on for 3 days. :eek: The people wanted their Christmas presents back, and he was getting very frustrated. He asked me just how the car was built, and just how in the hell do you get into one. He was used to getting into dosmestic cars, and was not used to the more difficult imports.[/fs]

Nope, I’m not missing anything.

  1. The windows are hard to miss. But, to my knowledge crooks much prefer the jimmy system because it gives them time to fuss with the ignition wires.
    A breaking window is more likely to bring police than a car alarm.
  2. Jimmies only have one legitimate use, which I cited in the OP.

So the question remains, if a block is basically cheap and easy, and “high end” cars have it, why don’t other cars?

Where’s the public interest in making cars un-break-in-able? You’re going to charge everyone that ever buys a car a premium price to help out the very, very small percentage of people in the entire world that are victims of auto-related crime?

I’m not trying to spark a debate here (wrong forum), but maybe it’s a good think to re-think the purpose behind the OP to begin with.

Well, to be fair, they only have one illegitimate use too, at least that I’m aware of. And strictly speaking, crooks much prefer unlocked cars because they require no fussing with the lock at all. The vast majority of cars that get broken into are unlocked to begin with. If you lock the door, the crook is likely to just keep going down the line of parked cars on the chance that he’ll find an unlocked one (if he was willing to work harder, arguably he might not be stealing car stereos and CDs).

Because they’re not high-end cars? Same reason that a Ford Mustang doesn’t tend to have that snazzy voice-operated AC system you see in some luxury cars or the built-in wetbar in a Rolls Royce. In any case, there’s a bigger market for the cheaper cars. They’re harder to track than the higher-end ones, and there’s more buyers for spare parts for them (because there’s more of them on the roads wearing out pieces).

My sources, incidentally, are the College Station Police Department and the Houston Department of Public Safety (they do drivers’ licensing and such in Texas), since I had to research all this for an article I wrote about 5 months back.

I can see it making it harder to a certain degree, but not much as the side windows are not attached to the top or sides. All I can see is it taking more then one brick toss.

You can use “slim jims” to get in your own locked out car, sure, but law enforcement needs to get in cars sometimes too, no. It is preferable to need to do that without breaking windows. I used to have a “slim jim” and used it for myself and others a few times. I have also seen the police and tow truck drivers use them. I took me forever and I don’t doubt that I could get better with practice. However, it took the police and others are little while to do it too. All cars aren’t exactly the same. I am pretty sure I could win a race with an accomplished “slim jimmer” on a random car if I had a hammer.

There are external features that allow cars to be towed. Thieves have been known to just tow cars away. Should we make cars difficult to tow too?

These types of ideas always need to be thought of in terms on cost/benefits and personal choice. If enough people want to pay for it, I say sure, let the car makers offer it as an option. I would advise them to buy it OnStar too though. It shouldn’t be a law though.

I’d say not much harder at all. A friend of mine had his radio stolen from his truck, and the “safety glass” driver side window was sitting neatly in the driver seat, completely cracked, but all together in one sheet.

Heh, I suppose such windows might be handy because they keep broken glass from getting all over the part of the car where your most vulnerable areas sit. I’m reminded of a friend of mine who’s car was broken into… and nothing stolen. She said that it was bad enough that they broke her window, without the insult of a crook not thinking anything she had inside was worth stealing! :smiley:

I don’t know… When my hubby was a DA, they had a cool demo by a former car thief, and that guy broke into each of the DA’s cars with a slim jim, taking no more than a second or two. He then drove them across the parking lot!

The guy was fast and smooth. There is no defense against a professional car thief. Luckily, the majority of them aren’t pros.

Well, why are most HOUSES so easy to break into?

Same reasons:

  1. MOST people have no desire to break into your house or car

  2. Most of the few people who might want to break in are sloppy amateurs who’ll be dissuaded by anything that makes a break-in slightly more difficult.

  3. The VERY few people who REALLY want to break in aren’t likely to be dissuaded by any but the most expensive and inconvenient of measures.

I feel like anyone who can drive my car off without a key can certainly open it, so it’s not that useful to defend the integrity of the passenger compartment. I never lock the car doors at home, and very rarely when not parked at home to defend against casual passers-by. As previously mentioned, anything protected by a piece of glass might as well be lying on the hood. I have only had anything missing from my car once, when some neighborhood kids (I assume) got the small change in my ashtray.

I average about 250 cars a year I have to unlock. Add in the fact I have been a locksmith 15 years now, I might have some idea of what I am talking about.
70’s and 80’s model GM and fords are a joke to unlock and drive away. (as a bet I did it in under 3 minutes with only a hammer and chisel) In the first part of the 90’s security features were increased on domestic vehicles mostly thru the use of key recognition systems such as VATS and PATS. Foreign vehicles for the most part increased difficulty in opening the doors without a key. Mid to late 90’s and up to today Transponder keys have become the primary means of keeping a vehicle from being stolen (excluding snatch and grap towing) Door locks on foreign vehicles have actually gotten easier to unlock, due to creation of new tools and means of bypassing the door lock. European vehicles remain by and large the most difficult to unlock. Especially if they have been locked with a key prior to the attempt. BMW and Mercedes when locked with a key have a vacuum system that will prevent the lock button to move until the vehicle is unlocked with a key. Lack of electricity for these systems has become lest of an issue due to built in bypass techniques.
Building a vehicle to prevent starting would become way to expensive to build, due to the fact equipment and tools will be created to unlock and generate keys for legal purposes.

Danceswithcats is also a locksmith on the boards so I am sure he can also add some insight as well.


At the auto auctions keys locked inside cars are very common ----------we rarely use a slim jim. And we are just amateurs.

Usually much faster to pry the door open slightly with those beveled plastic things, made specially for that purpose and use a long metal rod through that gap to hit the unlock button. or pull the inside door handle.

Some cars are harder than others though. Sometimes we have to call the locksmith over to do it.

But just because you can get inside a locked vehicle doesn’t mean you can start it easily. With modern cars that is the hard part ----and where you definitely need a locksmith or a very knowledgable car thief.

Well, I would like to once again point out that the vast majority of cars that get stolen are unlocked to begin with. Thus: They’re stolen BECAUSE no attempt was made to defend the integrity of the passenger compartment. If anyone has the choice between a car defended only by an easily-bypassed car lock, and the car next to it with effectively NO lock whatsoever, they’re gonna take the unlocked car every time. In any case, it’s your car, and I assume you know your neighborhood more than I do, so I guess it’s your call whether to lock the door or not.