Locked Yakima rack stolen

Just wanted to let folks know (if you already don’t) that locked Yakima racks are not theft-proof. I had mine stolen off my car that was parked in a commuter parking lot, in daylight. What was unbelievable was that the rack was entirely removed without any damage to the car. It was as if they simply unlocked it and removed it. I called Yakima and they do hear of this, but it is rare. Someone either with a drill or powerful enough with a screwdriver must have broke the locks. I never thought that could happen, so beware.


They could also have cut through the
plastic locking levers. I recommend getting a couple of strange paint colors and putting some splotches on your towers, crossbars, etc. It will look stupid, but it will deter people who will be reluctant to deal with paint removal. They’ll go steal someone else’s rack.

Rack theft is pretty rare, compared to boat theft.

could be keys

– Last Updated: Feb-18-10 12:56 PM EST –

There are only so many keys, and they even mark the key number right on both the key and lock cylinder, making it easy to figure out if you have the right key or not. A thief could go to tag sales and buy for real cheap all sorts of old racks just to get the keys.

Or simply
use a $1 hex key to undo the bar to Q-towers connection on one side, then slide the towers away from the door frame and lift up. Then slide out the other side… Not that I have anything to do with your rack disapearence, he-he… Sorry to hear that yours disappeared.

On my Camry you can’t remove the rack even if it is not locked - that is due to shape of the door hooks (they wrap around the door frame and the door when closed will hold them in place - need to open the doors to take out the Q-towers).But on my older Prius - it is a no tools needed job to remove the entire rack in one piece, since the plates that attach the Q-towers to the door frame are flat (I can actually install it or remove it without having to open the doors. And since I do not have locks on the rack - just lift and take it away…

Nice website
Enjoyed reading your articles about exercise physiology/paddling.

Sorry about the rack.

The Yakima Key
I wonder if it was done with a Yakima Key that opens everything.


The Yakima “core” key
can only be used to pull a core if the cylinfder is unlocked.


You should have had about three …
heavy boats on it and made them work for their money.



Key coincidence?
We discovered quite by accident that my husband’s key to his Yakima rack fit the locks to mine. We bought them at different times, different years, in different cities. Just a coincidence. Maybe someone had the “right” key? Also, are you sure they were locked? One time I’d been driving around for months thinking the towers were locked, but they weren’t. Sorry about the theft and your loss.

You need to soak em in seawater …
I can’t get my Yakimas unlocked …

What kind of a low life steals a rack? The resale value has to be pretty low for a used rack.

hex key
You could switch to security hex keys. Certainly not theft proof since you can buy a security bit set for $20 but every extra step helps.

I switched out the hardware on my Thule saddle to SS bolts and lock washers, they’re stronger than the plastic wing nuts and a tool is needed to remove them. This doesn’t prevent theft but it does make removing the saddles & J cradles a much slower process.

I would have to agree with the " key" theory …someone had a key and it fit…Yakima as well as others don’t make enough of them to justify each and every unit will have it’s own key code. There might a 1000 or 2000 or less, different key codes for the entire line/history… sooner or later , someone will have keys that are alike…LeatherLyke saddle bags for motorcycles has that problem…they only have , something like 150 or so different codes for their keys. Also , seems when it comes to doing things illegal like that, some people are criminally ingenious. It’s a shame. keep a eye on craigslist and other ads, maybe they’ll come up for sale.

This has been enlightening
thanks everyone for offering ideas as to how this could happen. The key theory seems right on and I can imagine some bas***d got his racks stolen and decided to find another set. What better way than to cruise a miami dade metrorail commuter lot (minimal security and lighting and no pass required to get in) to find one. And if these guys are so ingenious, why can’t they put that to better use. Go figure.

PS on a good note, I had to order a couple Q clips and have them overnighted. Yakima was good enough to waive the shipping costs AND gave me both clips for the price of one. They do have excellent costumer service.


Lot less keys than you think
Most car companies only have about 80 different key combination. Yakima has about the same. This small number is the reason car companies switched to chipped keys. It is much easier to create a larger number of computer signatures than it is different cut patterns.

A locked Yakima Rack cannot be disassembled. All the crucial bolts are hidden. A Q-tower can be broken which would allow the rack to be removed, but it does require someone familiar with the physics of the rack. Thule prints the lock number on the front of their racks, Yakima conceals theirs on the inside. You would have to try blindly to figure out if the key works.

Depending on insurance deductibles, I would recommend filing a claim. I would see no problem with a stolen rack being covered, especially if you had several accessories on the rack.

I have had 5 sets of locks
over the years and had a repeat set without trying.

What I have done to try to be a little more secure is put different cores on the drivers and passengers side of the car so two different keys are used to remove the rack. I have this setup on two different cars so the same pair of keys works on each.

Also, a lot of people don’t really have their racks on tight enough. I have pulled the rack off a friends car using two (strong) fingers to show her that she needed to tighten it more. She had been putting a $3500 kayak on this rack a couple times a week for months.

Some clips are far less secure than others. I had a Ford Taurus briefly and didn’t trust the clips to the point I sold the car. I was afraid of driving in a heavy wind and losing two canoes.

On my Volvo, they put four holes in the car and the clips have pins on them that lock the rack to the car if the doors are locked. It’s a nice setup.

Depends on model
"A locked Yakima Rack cannot be disassembled. All the crucial bolts are hidden."

Mine can be disassembled quite easy, no tools needed in fact. The side plastic plates that hold the towers to the base can be removed with bare hands easily without opening the clasp that has the lock in the middle. The opening to the hex bolt that us used to attach the clamp to the round cross bar is also accessible at all times - it is not covered by anything.

Newer models and especially ones that clamp to factory racks rather than rest on the roof seem more pfilfer-proof than mine…