By on September 6, 2014

Tailgate. Shutterstock user Derek Brumby

Yesterday’s post on Texas Tailgate Theft definitely struck a nerve with this Native Texan, especially the NCIB’s Quote:

“Since a tailgate theft takes just seconds to accomplish, consumers might consider using an after-market security device, such as a hinge lock to thwart criminals.”

Yeah, not quite…

photo 1

Just a little trip to my local Home Depot.

Yup, a hose clamp…well not just a hose clamp, but that’s for later.

Thanks to TTAC commentator, Editor in Chief of another blog and all around nice guy, Mr. Lyndon Johnson (yes, really) for planting this seed in my mind. He posted a photo on Facebook of a rusty hose clamp around the tailgate hinge of his Ranger. It instantly made sense: even if you don’t have a few of these rattling around, why the hell wouldn’t you spend $3 for these?


Hose Clamp PROS: Cheap, easy to install, readily available and slows down a would-be thief to the point they’ll look for another tailgate to swipe. And its an extra measure of protection, even if you have a lock in your tailgate release handle. (As they aren’t too hard to punch out with a screwdriver, too.)

Hose Clamp CONS: The expensive-ish aftermarket alternatives are more theft resistant. And the clamps are kinda ghetto-trashy ugly, if you care about those Vellum Venom type of design hang ups.

Here’s how to narrow the gap between the clamp and the lock: level the playing field with a bit of silicone adhesive.  You know, the stuff you already have in your garage.

photo 2

It’s not rocket science: coat the screw head and clamp’s threads in the stuff. It’s an extra level of complication, and as the night photo shows, a bit more complicated to comprehend. It’ll certainly drive a thief nuts trying to scrape that crap off.

Only to then need to unscrew the clamp. And finally lather-rinse-repeat on the other side. Or just leave my rig alone, find another Texan not wise to the hose clamp + silicone trick.

Now you know what I know: what say you Best and Brightest? Should all truckers spend $3-4 on this anti-theft modification?

[Lead image: Shutterstock user Derek Brumby]

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55 Comments on “Super Piston Slap: Thrifty Texans Trump Tailgate Theft?...”

  • avatar
    Sgt Beavis

    Heading to the garage after I finish writing this.

    Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Even the most expensive lock can be circumvented by determined thief. The great thing is that 95-99% of them are looking for an easy buck and are not determined. That is why locking a tailgate prevents theft the vast majority of the time. This, however, is just one more very easy thing to do make someone think twice..

    BTW, I have a suggestion for an article. How about some comparison on tailgate locks. You mentioned that some aren’t to hard to punch out. I’d like to know which ones are the better locks. Thanks.

    • 0 avatar

      “BTW, I have a suggestion for an article. How about some comparison on tailgate locks. You mentioned that some aren’t to hard to punch out. I’d like to know which ones are the better locks. Thanks.”

      I was referring to the factory locks on tailgate handles, editing now with this hyperlink to clarify:

      Glad to see you’ll do the clamp trick, too.

    • 0 avatar

      Or as my father constantly reminds me: Locks are there to keep honest people honest and lazy people from becoming criminals.

      I have a 13 year old stripper Ranger with a manual – it’s pretty much theft proof at this stage, except for the tailgate. As I always have hose clamps of various diameters in the garage, as soon as I’m finished my afternoon reading I will go and implement your cheap and brilliant fix.

  • avatar

    Can a Texan please help me understand why all the tailgate theft. Is there an alternative use for tailgates? I remember in the 1980’s, car emblems were often swiped, so the thieves could wear the logo on gold chains around their necks. That wouldn’t seem like a good option for most with a tailgate, unless they were really looking to strengthen their necks, in which case a grandfather clock might be a better choice. Take that, Flav!

    The only time I’ve used a pickup truck was to carry drywall from Home Depot. In which case, the tailgate is useless because the bed is less than 8 feet long. So if the vast majority of pickups are just hauling air and the egos of their owners, then what exactly is the purpose of the tailgate? Why would a thief want another?

    • 0 avatar

      When a truck actually gets used as a truck they can get damaged. We bent one into a U when a hired guy dropped 6 tons of hay from a semi on to it, bale after bale. Was replaced with an aftermarket one that was as stout as a tin can, could barely even walk on it.

      In short, tailgate gets trashed thru use, owners wants to buy a OEM replacement as they are the best quality.

      I wonder how many of the stolen tailgates are heading over the boarder into Mexico?

    • 0 avatar

      Mostly they are stolen to sell to people who have had their tailgate stolen.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      So if the vast majority of pickups are just hauling air and the egos of their owners, then what exactly is the purpose of the tailgate? Why would a thief want another?

      Wow, give it a rest please. I respectfully submit that most cars carry only air and the ego of the owner. If I am mistaken explain to me why BMW, Lexus, Benz, Infiniti Etal exist. Are we all supposed to drive a Corrolla?

      • 0 avatar

        @87 Morgan:

        I don’t think much of hauling air, OR luxury brands. When it’s obvious that the vehicle mastly hauls the owners ego, I can reasonably assume that their attitude toward life is less practical than mine.

        This comes up a lot, because I run with a fairly successful crowd, and so the people I know have some choice in what they drive. Also, I’ve owned three different pickups over the years, and I’ll probably own another one day – as soon as I have a practical need for one again.

    • 0 avatar

      Also, on modern trucks with backup cameras and other electronics, they are typically mounted in the tailgate.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      VoGo, for the most common retail pickup truck configurations, the tailgate functions as a fold down extension for a 6.5 ft bed to carry building materials that are 8 ft long. At least here in the suburbs of Dallas, it’s not uncommon to park today’s supersized pickup trucks outside on the driveway by the alley instead of in the garage. The tailgate is simply something easy to steal. Besides tailgates, spare tires are also sometimes stolen from pickup trucks parked outside.

    • 0 avatar
      formula m

      Many trucks are leased through small businesses/contractors and when they are returned it can be an expensive penalty to pay for a tailgate replacement after the fact. Companies that have many trucks can find some dirtbag to hook them up with a stolen one before it gets returned. After 2 or 3 times of paying full pop they will look for hot replacements. Even more valuable when a camera is involved as mentioned above

  • avatar

    I realized you were narrowing the gap in anti-theft effectiveness with the silicone adhesive, but it was strange to read that trick right after pointing out the ghetto-trashy nature of the hose clamp solution.

    Ghetto-trashy might be an upside on a truck anyway. Everything on it should be cheap and functional, with no regard for looks. I appreciate mud-sprayed wheel wells and dented beds a lot more than trucks that are somehow cleaner than my car. A hose clamp covered in silicone adhesive will fit right in on a truck like that!

    • 0 avatar

      IMO, when you care more about how truck looks than how well it works, you’ve missed the point.

      • 0 avatar

        So you would rather people overpay for a luxury car that’s not half as reliable as a D3 pickup, with parts infinitesimally more expensive?

        Yea, an that’s why pickups drivers would rather pay for something that actually retains value rather than a German car that no one wants after the next generation comes out.

  • avatar

    It’s not tough to swipe screw driver into a slot filled with silicon.The flathead driver is like a blade anyways.It may take and extra split second.

    A 3/8’s bit on a potato cordless would be ideal.But slapping on “JB Weld” is a different story.

    Thieves are expecting the hose clamp by now. And if it’s the correct color and trim that’s been ordered, they’ll spend the extra time.

    • 0 avatar

      “they’ll spend the extra time”

      not if there’s another one three parking spaces away

      Crime avoidance is not prevention–it’s merely making yourself less convenient than someone else. Crime still occurs–but to someone else.

      • 0 avatar

        Enter Tailgate Alarms! And LoJack just for your tailgate!!!

        Making it less convenient for thieves is better than nothing, but it’s a false sense of security. The better (or worse?) thieves probably carry basic tools, if not a palm cordless drill.

        A perp doing something in the back area of a truck may look like the trucks owner, to the casual onlooker. If the perp leaves it and goes to another truck, she’s obviously up to no good. She might as well finish the job once she starts.

        When (Chinese) electronic car alarms became cheap and flooded the market, it didn’t take car thieves long to figure them out and defeat them in seconds.

        Car thieve are better off switching to tailgates anyways because it’s not “Grand Theft” and they can steal a stack of them in a day, easily making more money than stealing cars.

        So hose clamps and silicone are nothing to them. But if they have a specific order for a Forest Green Metallic with “Platinum” or “Limited” trim, when they find one, they’ll do what ever it takes.

        • 0 avatar

          The solution then it seems is to paint your tailgate in a colour not in demand… and maybe with wording that won’t be in demand… like Pussy Wagon…

    • 0 avatar

      JB Weld would be much more effective than silicone, especially if you pushed it into the screw threads of the hose clamp. You would need a lot of very visible violence to get the clamp off at that point.

      Bonus: if you crack your engine block you can use the leftover JB Weld to patch it up!

  • avatar

    I blame stupid alloy wheels because there aren’t any hubcaps worth stealing nowadays.

  • avatar

    Angle the screw head towards the ground (if possible). I’d imagine a thief would be a little less inclined to crawl around on the ground (due to the compromised position) and then they get under there and find the head and worm gear covered in silicone?

  • avatar

    Got to marvel at the poor judgment of thieves in Texas. This is a state that makes Florida’s SYG law look strict. Texas law allows deadly force not only to protect personal property, but to retrieve stolen property. You’d be far better off pursuing this trade in NYC.

    I wonder what will happen to theft rates when tailgates start being made out of costlier aluminum.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Texas law protects the shooter from criminal liability, but you can be sued. You’re generally better off scaring the crap out of the thief without wounding him. A coworker caught a kid spray painting graffiti on his fence and held him at gunpoint until the police came. The police weren’t happy about it, but threatening to use deadly force to stop vandalism was legal.

  • avatar

    Interesting point. Those next gen Ford alum tailgates may be a lucrative target, although I assume an aluminum tailgate will be worth far more as a replacement part than as recycled metal.

  • avatar

    I get this, except for one thing… cordless reciprocating saws are really cheap now, and it’s pretty easy to roll under any of these ridiculously tall pickups to get a pair of catalytic converters, which are worth a whole lot more than a tailgate.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Here in Australia we have many pickups with flatbeds.

    The use of more flatbeds will reduce the number of tailgate thefts.

    I would think most are stolen because the length of pickup beds is shorter now than the ‘olden’ days when a pickup truck was a single cab with at least a 6′ or 8′ long bed.

    Maybe the manufacturers should increase the strength of the tailgates.

    • 0 avatar

      How nice of you to give up your Sunday morning to advise Americans on every little thing.

      • 0 avatar

        I normally don’t see eye to eye with Al, but he wasn’t being particularly condescending to people from another country and it’s actually not that odd of an argument to point out our tailgates seem relatively weak if they’re being bent and destroyed with such ease.

        I’m actually surprised an OEM hasn’t built an ultra-heavy duty tailgate with reinforced corrugated construction to keep it light but basically unbendable.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          Thank you very much. I’m actually not condescending.

          My point wasn’t country specific as we do have many pickups with pickup tubs and I’ve seen many of them destroyed by silly people not having a clue on how to load a truck.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Our pickup market has some variations in comparison to yours.

        You guys tend to buy a truck off the floor as is. This even covers so called off road packages etc.

        We don’t have that luxury, as it was tried and failed.

        Our market has evolved where we buy a truck and we customise it suit our requirements. This has an added cost, but you end up with exactly what you need and/or want.

        We have a massive aftermarket segment for pickups and all 4x4s.

        When we buy a pickup we look at what we require. If, like myself wanted a SUV style pickup then you buy the pickup with the factory tub.

        But many opt for a trayback, so they we have available cab chassis variants of all our pickups. So, if you have quads, bikes or whatever you would have a trayback ute.

        The same goes for off road. I just recently bought a suspension kit to suit my exact requirements off road. Not some factory created generic machine, that would at best be described as general purpose.

        The idea of customizing here isn’t about giving a truck lift so you can compensate for you tockley size, but to actually have a better performing vehicle.

        Some manufactures like Toyota and Mazda now have a range of factory accessories for 4x4ing. But, it seems they are attempting to get onto the large aftermarket scene here. But they don’t alter or provide any suspension gear. It’s mainly just some bolt on stuff like bullbars, bash plates for the side of your vehicle, etc.

        As a matter of fact our after market providers do supply the US. Names like ARB, TJM are all Australian companies.

      • 0 avatar
        formula m

        @petezeiss it’s not like he was saying Muricans need to lose weight

      • 0 avatar


        A flatbed really would solve this problem and a couple of other problems that occur with owning pickups – like the placement of the wheel wells on a compact pickup and the excessively high bedrails on a full size pickup.

        It’s an idea worth considering, and the experience in Australia is highly relevant, especially because Australia is similar to the US in a lot of important ways, but has different motor vehicle laws and market conditions. So, they’re a pretty good place to look for ideas like this, which could be adapted (and improved upon) for the American context.

        (I don’t drink the pickup cult coolaid, but I’ve owned three of them over the years and I expect to own another the instant I have a practical need for one. A flatbed on a Ranger or a Colorado is closer to my usual needs than a lot of the factory-equipment options out there – but my actual needs at the time I purchase my next truck will define the specs.)

  • avatar

    I used that trick on my Ranger. However, I got a buddy to hit the screw with a welder. No need for goop, and easy enough to remove with a Dremel, if necessary.

  • avatar

    What’s the big deal? Everybody knows that 4 door pickups were invented so you could stash the tailgate on the backseat while you hoofed it into the bar.

  • avatar

    There is a similar problem with Jeep doors. And catalytic converters.

    Bicycle locks have become pretty much worthless with the advent of cordless angle grinders. I had to remove a lock (legitimately, lost key) and it took less than 2 seconds to cut through the thick steel cable.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    Sajeev, forget those clamps. There are some that get their head knocked once certain torque is needed. No need to use anything else to prevent it being unscrewed.

    However, good luck when you need to remove the tailgate yourself.

    I’ve seen that tailgate theft problem before. In that case, a replacement was hard to obtain and expensive, so people who had their tailgate stolen bought stolen parts… Never imagined I would read about it in a 1st world country.

  • avatar

    Would a bumper sticker saying “you can have my tailgate…when you pry it from my cold dead hands” work?

  • avatar

    Perhaps it’s time the manufacturers realize that there are many owners who will never have reason to remove the tailgate, and offer lower mounts that are completely round that will not allow for removal without tools?

  • avatar

    The solution is simple… make your tailgate unique or undesirable…

  • avatar

    Would a dremel with a cutting blade or most any other similar cutting tool cut through the band part of a hose clamp in about 10 seconds? Might make some noise, I guess.

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