Warning to pickup owners: Tailgate thefts on the rise

It takes only minutes for thieves to walk off with your pickup's tailgate. You may not believe how much it costs to replace.

Towns Ellis says someone got to his Ford F-250 while he was asleep one night. “I woke up one morning, opened the garage door, went to walk out and I had no tailgate,” he said.

James Vogel and the staff at Peacock Ford are building Ellis this new one. Carmakers only sell tailgates in parts, not as a whole unit. If one goes missing, it takes about two weeks to find and assemble all the pieces. Replacing stolen tailgates is now a regular thing here.

“I usually see it about every other month,” Vogel says, “somebody will come will come to me for a complete tailgate.”

Why steal a tailgate in the first place? It turns out they’re extremely valuable on the street because of all the features they now contain.

“This vehicle here has the higher line molding on it,” Vogel says, demonstrating on a nearby truck, “which is about a $1,500 dollar molding, it has the steps that fold out and a handle that lifts up. That's another feature that's on these, that adds to the value of the tailgate. They have cameras in them for backup. That's right here. That's about a thousand dollar camera.”

He says the thieves usually try to sell the tailgates online. “Put it on Craigslist or one of the social media sites.”

Vogel says insurance normally covers stolen tailgates as long as you file a police report. But Ellis says he’s fighting with his insurance company. “Once I actually took it to the dealer to get a quote on repairing it, found out the check they gave me was about fifty percent of the actual cost of the repair.”

Peacock Ford estimated Ellis’ tailgate costs more than $6,000. He says he's working with the insurance company to get the full amount.

Florida, California, and Texas are the top three states for tailgate thefts.