Car Key Lost at Whangarei Stables, Found.

  • from Paihia (New Zealand)

This particular recovery was quite the ride.
Ilona asked me if I was able to find car keys? “Yes, I certainly can”.

She had taken her child to horse riding lessons and on returning to the car, realised with dread that the key was missing. Without the coded key, she was unable to start the engine – and it was the only ‘chipped’ key she had.

People scoured the area around the car park, and where she had been sitting but the key remained elusive. With the only spare key she had being unchipped, she could lock and unlock and open/close windows but not actually start the car.
Ilona had no option to have the car recovered back to her house.

She messaged me and I headed down the next morning.

At the riding school, Ilona gave me a very detailed and accurate description of her limited movements on the day. A quick sweep of the high probability areas gave nothing.
Suspect number two was the car itself.

Ilona habitually put the key on the dash, and had already searched the car. What if the key had slid forward and down between the windscreen and the dash molding?
She had to leave shortly though, and was pressed for time.

We left the riding school for now and went to check the car at her house using my remote camera.
The ability to sneak into places the eye cannot reach can be invaluable. In this case, after going all ‘CSI’ on her car, including inside the dash and centre console tunnel, I was confident the key was not inside the car – No need to remove the windscreen or dash, as was her next (expensive) plan of action!
While the family headed out, I returned to the riding school.

Shortly after arrival, I located the wayward key where it had fallen end on, incredibly into a key-sized slot between two rocks at the edge of the farm track.
Plausible scenario was that, for whatever reason, she had taken the key with her. Keeping it in her hand while she took the umbrella from the back of the car for shade from the aggressive New Zealand summer sun.
It was likely she had swapped the umbrella between hands – and that was when the key fell from her hand, landing end-on in the smallest of gaps!.
I texted her that I had found it and drove out to meet her.
However, on seeing the key – she was adamant that it wasn’t her key.
Wait, what?

The odds of two recent loss Toyota keys with yellow tags being on a private property were beyond astronomical.
Did the key actually belong to the riding school, or another patron, and coincidentally lost without their knowledge, yet?
Only one way to find out – I again drove back to their house where the forlorn Toyota sat immobile in the drive.
The key unlocked the door, but I needed more proof.
I started the engine.

It WAS the key! My brain could now relax in the knowledge I didn’t need to return to the riding school to take it apart … bit by bit!
The good news was relayed, I tucked the key somewhere safe and I headed home.

A stressed memory can definitely be the enemy with recoveries, second guessing and distorted perceptions are commonly encountered in these stressful situations.
If you have lost something, make written (or photographic) notes where you think you lost it as soon as you can. Your recovery specialist will thank you for it 🙂

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