Duplicate keys make theft an issue for ATVs, golf carts

Duplicate keys make theft an issue for ATVs, golf cars.

LA QUINTA, Calif. - Two teenagers on a stolen ATV lead police on an off-road chase through Desert Hot Springs last week.  The officers eventually caught the juveniles and returned the vehicle to its owner, who was shocked at how the teens started the joy ride.  "They had a key made? That's pretty high-tech.  How did they make a key for the ignition?"

It's easier than many might think.  Randy Simpson owns "The Quad Squad," an off-road vehicle tour company in the desert.  He says it's not uncommon to find duplicate keys to different vehicles from the same manufacturer. "They roll them out on groups, by the key," said Simpson.  "So, the key will have maybe I don't know, 20, maybe 30, who knows how many machines that are going to have the same key." 

It's even more common for golf carts.  While many high end carts come with a unique key, others which you might see on a golf course, don't.  "Unfortunately, you have to be really careful about where you're at and what you're doing with these golf carts," said Richard Wingard, the general manager of Yamaha golf cars of Palm Springs.  

Especially places where you can find designated parking spots for golf carts, like the shopping center next to the Del Webb country club in Palm Desert.  Residents say two carts were stolen from the parking lot in the last month.  "I didn't think something like that would happen here, in this area," said Don Fox, a golf cart owner and resident of Del Webb. 

To help curb the theft, Yamaha offers a service which can make sure no one else has access to your key.  "They're getting a whole new ignition and key," said Simpson.  "So, now their key is only theirs like their car, it only works in their ignition," said Wingard.  

Whether an off-road vehicle or a golf cart, Simpson says people should always make security a priority.  "Keep it out of sight, that would probably be the biggest thing," said Simpson.  "Keep some kind of a lock on it if you could.  It's another measure to have a chain lock or some other lock." 

Simpson also says the best way to protect your vehicles is to have these type of vehicles insured.  Especially, because in the state of California, it's not required to register golf carts in most cases, which can make tracking them down very difficult. 

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