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Truck won't start after attempted theft

Last night someone broke into my 2000 Ford Ranger (3.0L, automatic, 2wd, extended cab) and tried to steal it from my driveway. For some reason they didn’t complete the theft. Looks like they forced open the rear sliding window to gain entry. The steering column is damaged where you insert the key. The rotating part where you insert the key that has a slit is laying on the floorboard, along with a plastic ring that has stranded wire around it. (I think this is part of the anti-theft system that senses the smart key). Anyway, I can insert the key and turn the ignition but nothing happens, the engine doesn’t crank. The “theft” lite on the dash is flashing more quickly than normal. The thief didn’t damage anything else but did take the owners manual from the glovebox. This is just an everyday truck that is over 10 years old, nothing special about it, so I guess it was an attempted joyriding incident. Police said they had another vehicle in the area stolen and later found abandoned. I need this truck to drive to work, what do I need to do to be able to start it? There’s not a lot of money in our budget for bigtime repairs right now. All advice appreciated, thanks!

That ring on the floor with the stranded wire is the Passive Anti-Theft System transceiver. You’re going to need a new lock cylinder, key, and the reprogramming of the PATS system before the vehicle will start.


You are right about the wire around the plastic ring. Thats is why it wont start. You will need to see if you can repair that. It maybe cheaper to replace the column.

From what I’ve read about the Ford PATS system it is really hard/impossible to start the vehicle without the correct key. So how do all these kids that steal vehicles for joyriding manage to start the vehicle? Seems that by forcing the cylinder lock to turn the engine still wouldn’t start since the computer disables things without the correct key being present. Hasn’t this PATS design been around for so long that most cars & trucks in use today have it? Confused about why they even attempted it. What year did PATS begin getting installed? Thanks.


Kids are stupid. Probably just thought it was an old work truck, and didn’t know about the PATS at all. Most likely saw ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’ too many times. Pros know better.

Until the lock cylinder and PATS sensor is replaced and sync’ed to the ECM, this truck is not going anywhere on it’s own power. Bad luck, dude. Sorry.

ok, thanks everyone for the info.

The good news is insurance will pay for it if you carry beyond liability.