A car with the lights on parked in darkness.

Whether you’re out partying with friends or on a frantic last-minute errand run, it’s easy to lose your car keys in the whirl of events — or even lock them inside. This is a stressful situation even in daytime circumstances but, at night, it can be cause for panic. But before you allow fear to cloud your judgment, it’s imperative that you look out for your wellbeing first — then consider employing the help of a locksmith.

Evaluate Your Surroundings

As soon as you notice your keys are missing, take a moment to stifle any feelings of panic, take a deep breath, and focus on your surroundings. Don’t pull out your phone until you’ve taken note of the nearby area — this could leave you vulnerable to unseen threats. If you’re in a safe, well-lit area, and if your keys don’t appear to be locked in your car, it might be worth doing a quick search: check every pocket, your bags, and the immediate area in case the keys were simply dropped nearby. If you can, try to think back to possible locations you may have left your keys, and contact any friends and family in the nearby area to see if they can help you retrieve them.

A city street at night.

Get Somewhere Safe

If it’s clear you won’t be able to access your keys, or if you’re alone in a parking lot or enclosed area, it’s imperative to prioritize your safety. Before taking any further steps, try returning to your previous location. Most businesses stay open at least an hour after closing, and the employees would likely allow you to stay inside until you can find a ride home. Even if the last place you visited is fully closed, it might be worth looking for other nearby businesses that are still open, as long as you’re aware of your surroundings.

However, depending on the location or time of night, you might not find a safe space, or feel secure moving from your car. If this is the case, contact your friends and family immediately, let them know your location, and see if you can find someone trusted to give you a lift home. If no one is available, consider using a ride-share service.

In the case that no one is available to assist you, or if your car is stuck in a location where it’s likely to be removed, you can also call a 24/hr tow service, roadside assistance, or an auto locksmith like Pop-A-Lock. Though people associate towing with car removal, many tow companies offer emergency roadside assistance, providing a great fallback option should all your other contacts fall through.

No matter which option you choose, however, you should still find someone to call while you wait for help. Talking with someone on the phone makes you less of a target, in addition to freeing your eyes to be aware of your surroundings.

A lit bus stop next to the road at night.

The Next Steps

After your car is back in your possession, or once you’ve found a safe location to pass the night, it’s time to consider your next course of action. If you recovered your keys, consider getting a spare ignition key or a duplicate smart key — a great way to avoid any future predicaments. But if your keys are lost for good, it’s probably necessary to have your car rekeyed or your locks replaced so you can be reunited with your ride as soon as possible.

Person standing near an information desk at night.

We’re Here for You

Being locked out of your car at night is incredibly stressful, but we’ll do all we can to help. No matter the hour, if you call Pop-A-Lock’s 24/7 roadside locksmith service, we’ll dispatch a technician to help open your car. And if you need us to rekey your car or create a key duplicate, we’re here for that too. Check out these services and more on our website.