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Photograph VIN to get key to car

True or Urban Myth? Thieves can take a cell phone photo of the VIN on your dash, call a local dealer claiming a lost key, use the VIN to get a replacement immediately for a small fee, come back and drive your car away.

You likely have to do better than that. Anyone could photograph the VIN and go for a joyride.

Dealer’s security measures ( proof of ownership ) usually prevent this…but,
The right thief and the wrong dealership personnel ? Now thars another story.
With today’s programed chip keys they could only get into the car. Unless, once again, the ‘right thief’ had the equipment and time to program.

Thanks for the comments! I agree with you both that a determined thief, sometimes with assistance from unscrupulous dealer personnel, can steal any car.

BMW and MB dealers can not “cut” modern keys with security chips – only the distributor can provide keys. When I bought a replacement key for my 328i, I had to show the local dealer my registration (or title) and driver’s license. The keys are coded to the VIN, but the VIN alone will not get you another key.


Considering my car was purchased in another province, 4 over from my own, from an Auto Broker…and I have no clue, not even one iota of which dealership originally sold the car…if they actually managed to find the right dealer and get him to send them a key for a car out of production for 15 years…PROPS, you deserve my car.

As Ken said, one would need proof of ownership and keep this proof in their records. GM does audit dealerships for this info.

Our Ford allows 8 programmed keys to be made. If you were lucky enough to get a key you would still need a good key to program it in the vehicle, so with our ford you would be out of luck.

To my surprise, there is actually some validity to this claim.

Take a look at what the Snopes website had to say, following their research on this rumor:

The weak link in this scenario is the dealerhip.
If their personnel do not demand sufficient proof of ownership, apparently this scheme could work–at least on some cars.

The latest thing in auto theft is a blank key with a variable frequency vibrator built in that will buzz the tumblers around and allow the lock to be opened. ANY lock that uses tumblers in a cylinder. Home burglers too…This may not start the car, but it will unlock the steering column…