Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona, just for fun. Advertising-free, supported by my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

Getting your car stolen by joyriders in old-time Phoenix

As I was browsing through the Desert Magazine from 1944, I saw a blurb about the problems that Phoenix was having with joyriders taking cars that had their keys left in them, and it's gotten me to thinking about all of that.

Speaking for myself, I never even dreamed of leaving my keys in the ignition of my car, but I do remember the TV commercials when I was a kid in the 1960s that said, "Lock your car, take your keys", so it must have been a problem that persisted for decades. Whether my parents, or grandparents, did that, I don't remember. They probably did.

I don't know about you, but I did have my car stolen by a joyrider in Phoenix, back in the '90s. No, I hadn't left my keys in the ignition, but apparently the make and model of car I had was easy to get into, and steal. All I really remember about it was the strange feeling of walking out to where I had parked my car, and realizing it was gone. Just in case you're wondering, the police did find it, and apparently there even was a chase, which wrecked the car, although the person inside wasn't hurt.

I've lived in Phoenix since 1977, and as far as I remember I've never seen a car with the keys in the ignition. The last time I saw that was a truck in the little town in Minnesota where my grandma lived, back in 1995. I remember thinking "I wonder if the keys are in the ignition of that nice new truck?" so I took a look. Yes, they were. And since I had recently lived in Los Angeles, where if you took your eyes off of something for just a few seconds it would get stolen, I thought how nice it was to live in a small town, and of course how shocking it would be for small town people to realize how much everything has to be locked up in a big city.

Looks like Phoenix became a big city in the 1940s, and definitely in the 1950s. I'm sure the police wished that people realized that, and would make things just a little bit more difficult for people who wanted to commit crimes, even innocent ones like joyriding in a stolen car (although nowadays that doesn't sound so innocent, does it?).

Thank you for time-traveling with me. Now, lock your car and take your keys, as we return to modern-day.

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