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Beautiful morning at Tamarack State Beach in San Diego. Photo: Flickr

San Diego dawn patrol welcomes surfers, exercise groups, and car thieves alike. Photo: Flickr


The Inertia

Editor’s Note: We’ve put together a thorough list of hide-a-key options for surfers to keep your cars safe. Check it out here.


It was around 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning when I was asked to help a frantic surfer whose car had just been stolen. Wet, cold, and helpless, this guy was living a surfer’s worst nightmare.

He assured me that he’s never had a problem leaving his keys on top of his tire, and he was confused how his truck could have possibly disappeared into thin air. Despite this seemly obvious hiding spot, it’s actually one of the most common places surfers leave their keys. It’s one of the most dangerous too. Like most people, this guy never thought grand theft auto could happen to him—especially in a parking lot full of trustworthy surfers. Suffice to say, car theft is extremely common at the beach.

Here are five ways to safekeep your keys so you can enjoy your session without thinking twice:

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1. Bring it with you.

The best thing you can do to avoid this horrible situation is keeping your car key with you at all times. I suggest tying it to a shoelace around your neck and tucking it in your wetsuit. You can also fasten the key to the the string in the pockets of your wetsuit or board shorts. If you have an electronic key, just go to a locksmith and get a door-only spare. The only risk is the key falling out of your suit, so make sure it’s tied properly.

2. Give it to a friend.

If you have someone with you at the beach, simply leave your valuables with them. Unless that person is secretly plotting to steal your car and everything inside, this is the definitely the second safest method while you’re in the water.

3. Hide it under a rock or in your towel. 

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Never leave your key on your tire, under your car, or in your trunk. Many thieves target surfers because we’re the chillest, right? It’s true. We’re freaking awesome. We’re so freaking chill that we’re comfortable leaving our keys in plain site. That is, until you learn the hard way. Jokes aside, if you absolutely need to hide it somewhere, stash it under a rock in a remote location on the beach. If you feel more comfortable leaving it in your towel on the beach, really keep an eye on it during your session.

4. Get a key security lock.

Making an investment is well worth keeping your stuff safe. For $48, this handy little Hitchsafe Tow Hitch Vault is a go-to. I’d really like to see someone get past this thing. It’s also super easy to use. All you have to do is put your keys in, set your combination, and secure it to your car.

5. Leave it in a diaper. 

Yes, a diaper. It sounds disgusting, which is why it works. If you don’t want to dish out the cash for nifty lock, just bury your keys in a good ol’ baby diaper. That’s the last thing anyone would expect to be hidden inside, let alone touch it. There could be baby poo in it. And every knows baby poo is just the worst. The only thing you have to worry about is someone throwing it away. In that case, leave it under your towel and/or far away from a trashcan.

If you have any other successful key-hiding methods, we’d love to hear about them. Stay safe out there!

Addition: We’ve put together a thorough list of hide-a-key options for surfers to keep your cars safe. Check it out here.

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