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My locksmith van was stolen!

My locksmith van was stolen!

PJ
So recently, we had a local locksmith van get stolen, and we're here to tell the story.



PJ

Alright, so I am joined here with Kip Bateman with Vanguard Lock & Key.

Kip
How's it going, PJ?

PJ
Good. Thank you very much for coming on. You're not a stranger, right? You've been on some shows before.

Kip
Yeah.

PJ
And recently, unfortunately, you have had your van stolen.

Kip
Unfortunately, yes. That is the case.

PJ
I appreciate you really wanting to come on or being willing to come on and kind of talk about it. And so, I want to start at the beginning. And if you could, what time of day was it? It can kind of tell us how this all unfolded.

 

What Happened?


Kip
Okay. So, the evening before I had to drive to Avery and do a call, came back pretty late, went to bed around midnight, and woke up the next morning. [The van] was parked right in front of the shop under the light, several feet away from the road.

PJ
We're talking like 20 feet?

Kip
Probably 40 feet from the road.

PJ
Okay.

Kip
So, I always nose it up right in the middle of the shop door under the light where I live. And I got up around 9:30, because I think it was a Saturday or something if I remember correctly. And I walk around the corner, and I'm like "where's my van?"

PJ
Like you're inside the house?

Kip
Yeah, yeah, I was around the corner. Yeah, so, it took a second. Like I- it was like, something's not right. My brain said something's wrong. There should be something sitting here. And I'm like, "where's my van?" And I start looking around. I'm like, "What is going on?" And I'm like, "maybe somebody's messing with me." Like my buddy took my van and moved it or something. Because we played a few pranks on each other.

PJ
Yeah.

Kip
I'm like, "what is going on?" And I looked down and I see glass all over the gravel. And I'm like, you've got to be kidding me. I'm like, "no way." So, I'm in the denial phase. I'm like, "this is not good." So, you know, the heart rate starts going up; the adrenaline starts going up. I call my brother, because he lives, you know, right next door. And I'm like, "hey, my vans gone." And he's like, "what?" He thought I was messing with him. He thought I was playing a prank on him. I'm like, "no, no, it's not. Dude, my vans gone." And he comes out. We get on the phone with the sheriff's department. We started looking around, and what it appears that they did is took two screwdrivers busted out my window.

PJ Slauson
Ok.

Kip
Got inside, got the ignition on. So, they pushed it out of the driveway, all the way to the street. The reason I know that is my headlight was broken. And the night before my headlights worked fine. That's why I mentioned that I drove somewhere last night, because I had to use my headlights. So, they pushed it out of the driveway, drove down the street, knocked the rest of the glass out. And then drove about a mile and a half away down to an apartment complex. [He] had his girlfriend follow him, because we've got it on video where he comes around, tries to sneak around the back of an apartment complex. And then she's following him in the car. He pulls my van, and she turns around and backs her car next to it. She's the lookout.

The Thieves Driving the Van to an Apartment Complex


So, he sits in my van for about 45 minutes doing his thing. Whatever he's doing getting my stuff and then offloads it into her car. And they drive out of the front of the complex and they're gone.

PJ
So, when this happens, you call the cops. And you're like, hey, I need my livelihood back. ASAP. Right?

Kip
Yeah, it took them a while to get there, because they had something else going on. They came out, took pictures, took a report, and he goes "it's probably in Spokane right now." He goes, "I betcha Spokane or Airway Heights."

PJ
Yeah, which is, like from where we're at, you know, it's like, I don't know 30-45 minutes away.

Kip
Yeah, 30-45 minutes. Yeah. It was like well, great. So, he started searching traffic cameras, nothing came up. Well, I guess at the time, most of the Post Falls cameras were- they'd been hacked. So, they weren't even working. So, they couldn't use the intersection cameras to track my van through town.

PJ
Bummer.

Kip
Of course, we posted on Facebook. You know, everybody starts posting for me. I was so stressed out I couldn't even think straight. I mean, I had so many emotions. I was mad. I was upset. Everything, it just, it was not fun and then about four or five hours later, somebody calls my brother and says, "hey, does Kip have two vans?" He's like, "no, why?" He goes, "well, I'm looking at his van right now." He's like, "you're kidding me." He goes, "yeah, it's sitting down here at this apartment complex where I live." So, of course, we get in the truck, jet down there, look at it from afar. You know, don't approach it, because I said, I'm not going to touch it. So, we call the PD, and they come out and I kind of stood across the way and just hit my clicker to unlock it. And then they opened the doors, looked in, and then they let us come over. Took pictures, you know, I mean, the thing was trashed. I mean, stuff was everywhere.

PJ
Okay.

Kip
So, and there's a laundry list of things they took.

PJ
Okay, there was a bunch.

Kip
Yeah.

PJ
Now, I'm gonna go back as we're talking. I'm gonna go back. So, they got your ignition on; was it pre-transponder key?

Kip
Yeah. So, I have- and I don't know this, because they took weird things. Like they took already cut key blanks, like junk key blanks. They took my business cards.

PJ
Really?

Kip
They took you know, weird, like paperwork and stuff.

PJ
Like, what didn't they take?

Kip
Yeah, but there were some things that they didn't take. Like, they took one Slim Jim, but they didn't take the other. They took one long rod, but they didn't take my door spreader, like to pry the door open, to unlock cars. Why wouldn't you take that?

PJ
Uh-huh.

Kip
They didn't take any of my pinning kits, but they took, you know, my programmer, and my transponder keys. They didn't touch my key machines.

PJ
They didn't?

Kip
No. It looked like, well I think the reason maybe they didn't is that I have my cords go back around behind my bench and go through. So, I think maybe it was a, "ugh, I don't have time for this. I'm in a panic." Okay, because they were unscrewed. But they didn't take them.

PJ
So they unscrewed them?

Kip
Yeah, they unscrewed them.

PJ
They're like, "oh, I need to unplug this, so I'll just leave it."

Kip
Yeah. Yeah, they didn't take, like I bought that Rytan punch and stuff from you. They didn't take that. They didn't take my blue punches.

PJ
Really?

Kip
Yeah. But they took every single tool, drill, they took my GM tear down kit, my safe drills.

PJ
Like stuff that you could probably take to like a- sell on the internet. Ok, have they found the person who did this?

Kip
No.

PJ
They're still out on the loose?

Kip
Yeah.

PJ
Man, I'm sure that's frustrating for you.

Kip
It is frustrating.

PJ
Being violated like that.

Kip
They took pictures, they got the video from the apartment complex. I have video. I was trying to get somebody to clean it up but wasn't able to do that to get a clear license plate.

PJ
Okay, because you can see the trail vehicle.

The Female Thief Driving


Kip
Yeah, you can see that it's a female driving, and you can see her face in the windshield. She's turned into follow him. You could see him, kind of. You could see that he was actually smoking a cigarette as he was driving my van. Because what he did is he put a visor up on the window, like a windshield visor, and stuck it up in the window, so nobody could see him. But while he was driving, he took it down. But I think when he was sitting there, cleaning it out, he put the visor up, so nobody can see him. And it was not a good time.

PJ
No, well yeah, I'm sorry, that happened to you. You were just telling me before we started recording, there was another one that got hit in the area around the same time?

Kip
Yeah, a little bit after me.

PJ
A little bit after. Jeez, that's terrible. So, if I can I want to ask you a couple of questions here and then let you off the hook. So, the first question would be is: I'm sure you had insurance. How did that work out for like, has that been a good process? Has it been a struggle?

Kip
It was for the most part, it was okay. But I realized when I talked to the insurance agent, I heard a different number in my head. But he got a different number. So, I wasn't completely covered, because I lost total of like 18,600 something dollars. So, I was covered for about 10 of that. I thought I was covered for at least 20.

PJ
Okay.

Kip
So, check your insurance, make sure what your coverages are. That's on me, because I misunderstood when we did it, but at least I had something.

PJ
You had something, yeah.

Kip
Yeah, I mean, if I didn't have insurance, I can't imagine like it would have been devastating. And as a matter of fact, I had to come in here like the day after and buy a new programmer, because I already had jobs scheduled.

PJ
Okay.

Kip
So, I had to turn around and buy new tools immediately just to be able to function with the jobs I already had scheduled.

PJ
Yeah, without any insurance.

Kip
Yeah, and that takes a while, because they want you to go through and do pricing. And, tell them what you lost.

PJ
And the truth is, I can't really, you know, blame you too much. Like, the truth is, anytime any of us we get our insurance renewals- Right, I just got the insurance renewal for this building in December, and they're like, "Hey, make sure you look through it, and everything looks good to you." And I look at the PDF. I mean, if I printed it out, it had to be this thick. (about 2.5" tall)

Kip
Yeah.

PJ
And I start reading it, now I went to public school, right? And so, I'm like, "What?" And I reply back, and I'm like, "Hey, you have to help me out here a little bit, because I don't- there's so many like- this is the coverage. But then here's all these clauses against it."

Kip
We'll cover it, but if this happens, we won't. Yeah.

PJ
Yeah, but at the same time, I mean, after you've been through what you have, I'm guessing that knowing what those coverages are a lot more- like, it's a lot more clear to you now.

Kip
Yeah.

PJ
Yeah, I'm getting that. And so I think it's something that all of us can kind of do sometimes is not communicate with our insurance company and our agent.

Kip
Yeah, and you get a good agent who's there for you, you know, and I won't name any names, but there are some companies that are a lot better than others. Where you actually feel one place, you'll feel like you're just a number and other place, you'll feel like they actually care.

PJ
Absolutely.

Kip
And one thing you asked me earlier about the ignition, and I never, I never finished that thought, by the way. Just I had a hidden key, like in my console, like hidden just in case. I don't know if they found that key, or they made one or whatever. But, I ended up replacing and rekeying the entire vehicle.

PJ
Okay.

Kip
So, they took my personal keys also. So, I had to, on my Ford excursion, I had to delete everything. And reprogram and all that stuff, because they took the whole key ring.

PJ
Interesting. Okay.

Kip
But anyway, insurance. Yeah, insurance is important. It is worth it. I know it's not fun to pay that bill. You know, but make sure you check your coverages. And it's worth paying it, because you never know, when it's gonna happen.

PJ
Yeah. And so from the aftermath of all of this, it's what about a month?

Kip
It was August 30.

PJ
Now, after the dust has settled a little bit, you've gotten your van all the way back together, right?

Kip
Yep.

PJ
What are some key takeaways that maybe, that you've learned, that maybe those who are watching right now could benefit from.

Kip
There's things you can do, you know, like, if you have electronic locks which most of us do now on our vehicles, you can put kill switches on the doors, and I have a separation cage that separates the front from the back. So what I did is I re keyed my vehicle, and I made the ignition one thing and I made all the doors a completely different key. Because typically, I use my remote to lock and unlock the vehicle. And then, on the side doors and back doors, I put a kill switch in, so they can't get in the front and then hit the unlock button in the front. So it just kills the power of the door. So, as long as that cage is there, they're going to have a hard time getting into it. It just it's like everything in our business. It's to slow them down. Keep them from getting in as long as possible until somebody either catches them or sees them in-progress.

PJ
Yeah. Or they give up.

Kip
Yeah, or they give up or they're just deterred, which is the best case scenario.

PJ
Yeah.

Kip
But, you know, that's, that's a big thing is, you know, pay attention to where you're parking. I mean, like I said, mine was right under the light, quite a ways from the road. They didn't care and I feel like they'd probably been watching me for a while. You know, that's what I feel like, because it was it. What was it 6am? Something like that if I remember correctly.

PJ
When this happened.?

Kip
Yeah. So it was daylight by that.

PJ
Yeah, that's kind of weird.

Kip
And there's construction around and everything, like it was pretty, I'll say ballsy. It was it was ballsy of them to do it. Pay attention to your surroundings. You never know. Make sure your vehicles locked, insurance. You know, key charts, everything like that. That's why you store them off site. You don't carry them in your van. Simple things like that. Because you don't want anything compromised.

PJ
Sure. Yeah, and so, you know, I'm kind of curious, before, it sounds like you kept a lot of stuff, all in almost all your equipment in your van. Has that kind of changed on like, maybe not wanting to keep it all? I mean, the problem is, every day is unpredictable.

Kip
Yeah.

PJ
And you don't want to like, you know, spend 20 minutes loading the van up every day. Or maybe you do?

Kip
You know, I try to keep in there, what I know I'm going to do on a daily basis. You don't work on that many older GM vehicles, so I don't keep my tear down kit in there really anymore. You know, plus, it gave me more room, because I had to gut my van and kind of redo things, which I'm still kind of working on and changing. I mean, you have to keep your everyday stuff in there. You just have to do it. Like, you don't have time to sit there and load as you know, as locksmiths get really busy. And it's go go go all day long. So, you don't have time to mess around with that.

PJ
Especially when you get home at midnight. I mean, truthfully, even if you were taking your stuff out a lot. When you get home from a late job at midnight, right? I mean, all you're thinking about, key off, in the house, go to sleep. Right?

Kip
Yeah. And that's it. I mean, you want to be prepared, but you can't take the time to load and unload every single day. It's, you know, like I said, with the kill switches, that's important. Just be a little more prepared. And the key charts are important, because you don't ever want to be compromised, because that could be I mean, can you imagine?

PJ
I mean, that's bad.

Kip
And that's something- that's a can of worms, I would never want to open.

PJ
Yeah, I don't blame you.

Tile Tracking Devices and AirTag Tracking Device

Kip
And trackers. That's the new thing I've done is- I won't say where they are, but there's trackers now. In certain places, certain things that you would never know they're there. So if you walk off with it, I can still see you.

PJ
By using like the Apple pods [AirTags]?

Kip
Yeah, or like Tile makes the Tile Pro.

PJ
Okay, or like the Tile.

Kip
You can put it in there and it's got GPS. It's small. You know, you can hide it. I know a lot of guys who their biggest problem is they would get their charger stolen from their drills. They would leave it at a job site and go to lunch and come back. It's gone. So, what they started doing is putting a tracker inside the case of the charger.

PJ
Put a little AirTag in there, or something, a Tile, yeah.

Kip
And I mean, at least, you know, something, a couple of your higher end items and the vehicle itself where nobody can get to it or find it. Yeah, you know, because at least it'll be a quick retrieval. And if you're lucky, you can catch him red handed. I will say that they were very lucky. Because if I would have caught them, it would have not have been good for them. And I wish I would have heard it. But it would not have gone well for them. And that's, I'll leave it at that. Yeah, but-

PJ
I mean, I could imagine, knowing you, I could imagine you were pretty amped up.

Kip
I was very amped up. I was, yeah.

PJ
I mean, it's a it's a terrible personal violation that you've had to go through.

Kip
And it is that's the exact- it's the perfect saying for that. It's a violation. You feel violated. And then you're mad, because you've been violated.

PJ
Yeah, and just changes things a little bit. You know?

Kip
Lesson learned. What do you do? You move on, and try to prepare, that way next time, if it does happen, hopefully it never will, you're a little more prepared.

PJ
Yeah. But I think, you know, it absolutely sucks. That that happened to you and your business. Right. Like those are moments that if things don't always go our way, it can put us out of business.

Kip
Yeah, it could very easily.

PJ
Could definitely, you know? But it didn't it, right? And you persevered through it. Doing good now.

Kip
Trying, yeah. All you can do is move forward.

PJ
Yeah. And so, you know, I want to at least commend you for pushing through, get going through the pain and keep moving forward.

Kip
Yeah, well, life is full of- we'd love to say that life is a nice beautiful thing all the way through, but we all know that there's bumps and bruises and roller coasters and everything involved.

PJ
There really is.

Kip
Yeah, it's always an unexpected journey.

PJ
It is. So well hey, well, thank you for sharing this story. I really appreciate it. I think for everyone who's watching I think there's so many people that this can and maybe has already affected and I think it's something that you know, we should be talking about a little bit.

Kip
I agree.

PJ
What that looks like and making sure insurances are up, maybe hiding some AirTags, or Tiles or what have you and try to be as prepared as we can for it.

Kip
Yeah, and then, you know, having some sort of savings or backburner in case something happens, because insurance I can tell you does not move quickly, even with a good one. It takes time. So, you need to be prepared for those things, you know, an emergency fund or whatever, just in case. So, that's another piece of advice I could give.

PJ
Absolutely. Well, everybody, hey, thank you for watching. Kip, thanks again for coming on. And we'd love to see your comments in the notes below. Thanks for watching, and I'll see you next time.

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