If you’ve ever locked your keys in your car, you’ve probably considered calling the police for help. But can the police actually unlock your car? The answer is: It depends! Many police departments are equipped with the tools necessary to unlock cars, but the availability of this service varies from city to city. 

Two police cars with their lights on parked on a street at night.

When the Police Might Unlock Your Vehicle

In some cases, police officers may be able to help you get your car unlocked. Depending on the type of car and locks, police may have the tools and knowledge to unlock the car without causing any damage. This is especially true if the car is equipped with standard door locks.

If the car has more advanced locks, such as those that require a keyless entry system, the police may not be able to help. These types of locks are often too complicated for police to open without the right tools. 

Some police departments will only unlock cars if the owner can prove that they are the legal owner of the vehicle. Other police departments may not have the resources to unlock cars, and will refer you to a locksmith instead. It depends heavily on your area and the capabilities of your local department, but it’s often not a good idea to contact the police in the case of a car lockout.

It’s also much more likely that the police will respond to a lockout call if there’s an emergency, such as a young child or pet being stuck inside the car, the vehicle being at a higher risk of damage or theft due to where it’s parked, or the driver being stuck in an unsafe situation. In these sorts of circumstances, however, it’s more likely that the police will break into the vehicle than attempt to open the door without damage. 

A green car parked in a space in a dark parking lot.

When They Won’t

The police might be able to get the door open on your car, but they more commonly will not be able to or may not respond to the call if it’s not an emergency. The goal of the police is public safety, and the only time that being able to get inside of your car can be seen to fall under this duty is when you happen to be in a dangerous situation. Unless it’s an emergency, you’re better off contacting a reputable car locksmith in your area than the police.

Car locksmiths specialize in providing services to get people into their cars, while the police have more pressing matters to attend to. Plus, locksmiths have specialized tools and knowledge that the police don’t have, so they’re more likely to be successful in getting you inside your car without damage. 

They Might Charge You

Because it isn’t the duty of a police officer to help you get inside of your car, the police might charge you for the call. Since it’s so likely that the police won’t be able to get you inside your car without damage even if they do respond, there’s a chance they’ll just call you a tow truck. If that’s the case, you’ll be out the fee for the tow as well as the charge for bringing the officers out to a call that wasn’t an emergency and may have cost the police precious time and resources. 

A tow truck towing a vintage car down a residential street.

What To Do Instead

When you get locked out of your vehicle, rather than calling the police, call a mobile car locksmith. Pop-A-Lock’s car locksmithing services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in certain locations, so be sure to give us a call if you’re locked out of your vehicle! We’ll get you back on your way quickly, safely, and cheaply, without the stress of contacting the police.