I accidentally took the wrong car

About a week ago the story of a Canadian woman who “stole” a stranger’s car (she didn’t realise she’d done so) made headlines. She got into the car which had one of those key fobs (rather than a key) so the car started with no problems. She drove around for two weeks before discovering the mistake. You can read the story here.

This isn’t the first time this has happened, because it happened to me a lot of years ago. I was at university and a friend and I wanted to go to the shopping centre (we lived on campus) and another friend offered the lend of his car. We took the car keys (the old fashioned kind) and headed to the car park he said he’d parked in. Yep, there was the yellow(!) hatchback. We unlocked the doors, got in and drove to the shops. We changed the radio station to what we wanted to listen to, adjusted mirrors and seat positions and were gone for a few hours.

Image result for 1988 toyota corolla yellow four door
The “borrowed” car was just like this

When we returned we couldn’t get a park in the same car park so ended up leaving it parked in a different location. Of course, we told our friend, thanked him, gave him the keys and thought nothing of it. Until the next day when our friend said his car was exactly where he’d left it…

Yes, we’d taken a complete strangers car!

I can only imagine what the owner thought when they reported the car stolen only to have the guards track it down, still on campus, in the next car park along. I bet they were  embarrassed about “forgetting” where they parked. But then when they got into the locked car and found all the adjustments they’d have been so confused.

10 comments on “I accidentally took the wrong car

  1. Goodness, what a story! How on earth could it happen? One of those things that makes me glad I have no car!

    Probably the person whose car you “stole” is still wondering what happened! Or maybe never worked out that it wasn’t their confusion over where they parked!

    • There are actually a couple of reasons why it could have happened…
      – older car keys which become a bit worn can become “bump” keys and with a bit of jiggling they effectively pick the lock
      – each manufacture uses a certain number of tumblers and a certain number of depths of cut so there are multiple vehicles with the same key (but still quite the coincidence!)

      I did hear of one American family who had two different types of Honda cars bought in different years from different dealers and both cars used the same key (they accidentally used the wrong set one day).

  2. Amazing! Again… very glad this is not a problem I will ever have.

  3. Hah! That’s just hilarious. And totally something I could see happening (to me).
    Thanks AJ,


  4. Wow. I can see how it could happen, except wouldn’t you wonder about the stuff you have stored in your car? I mean the modern story, not yours where you “borrowed” a stranger’s car.

    There’s a scene in a movie with just this sort of thing happening. Although, it’s from the 1930s. Bringing up Baby. (I think. It’s been a while since I saw it.) I guess it was a really big problem with really old cars.

    • I think the reason the modern story occurred is because it was a rental car, so I don’t think there was the normal day-to-day detritus we tend to collect. She only realised when she returned it to the rental agency. Can you imagine that conversation!

  5. Is there a way to work this situation into your mystery, AJ? It’s terrific and unbelievable enough to make for great fiction.

  6. I ha no idea this was possible. Isn’t the purpose of a key that it is unique?
    Great story, though, and you should whip up 9 more of them and join us at this week’s Top Ten Thursday: https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2018/07/top-ten-thursday-mishaps.html

    • Hi Tamara, sorry, I missed your comment! For some reason I don’t always get an email notification of comments.

      I also thought keys were unique until that day. When our friend asked us why we’d sent him to the wrong car park and we sorted through what happened I went cold all over.

      Hah, I probably have hundreds of mishaps, but remembering them is the trouble. I tend to need something to jog my memory (like the news report from Canada).

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