Desperate to find van keys, Surrey family tries crow method

A Surrey family who lost its car keys in Victoria, only to discover they may be irreplaceable, is resorting to tracking crows in the area.

John Higgins said after hearing a story about crows picking up someone else’s keys, he asked a friend to investigate.

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The family had to leave the right-hand-drive Japanese-import 2002 Toyota minivan in Victoria, after getting locked out June 2.

“We’ve got a friend who we’ve asked to go down to Wharf Street and throw a few bits of shiny stuff, to see if any crow comes and picks them up. Because I can’t imagine that any person can’t have heard about this,” Higgins said.

Higgins said he has spoken with every business in the area, food vendors, homeless people, security personnel and has posted posters and spoken with multiple media outlets — in hopes that someone would return the keys.

No luck.

If the keys aren’t found, Higgins said the family hopes Toyota Japan, which the family’s Burnaby dealership has contacted, can help them. If the company can’t help by Thursday, the family will have the car towed back to the Mainland.

Toyota Canada has already said it can’t help, since the model is not part of the Canadian fleet.

“We didn’t know it would be so impossible. We live in such a global village. If you need something, you can usually just get online and find what your’e looking for,” Higgins said.

“We’re in a twilight zone of car situations.”

Higgins said he has been overwhelmed with phone calls and texts from well-meaning people offering advice that hasn’t generally been helpful.

Several have offered to “hack” the car, which has a complicated computerized system on top of a hybrid internal-combustion engine with electric propulsion.

Higgins is wary of accepting that help without some kind of professional guarantee.

“The problem with having someone hack it, is if they damage it irreparably, we may end up with a worse problem,” he said.

In the hybrid system, the engine may work, but the wheels are connected to an electric motor that charges the battery. If the wheels spin, but the computer isn’t properly configured to recognize that, he said the batteries could charge until they explode, for example.

“If it was just a gas engine, this would be a different story.”

The Higgins are borrowing a car from extended family members, but John said that’s not a sustainable solution for the family of four, which includes a five- and two-year-old.

The saga began June 2, after the visiting family of four had dinner at Nautical Nellies. They were walking along Wharf Street and stopped briefly outside SendtoNews at 1111 Wharf St., where John tied his son’s shoes. They got to Oh Gelato on Government Street before Higgins realized the keys were gone.

The key ring had a number of fobs, a carabiner and a small, hand-crafted piano his son made.

Anyone who finds the key ring is asked to call Higgins at 604-616-8384.

asmart@timescolonist.com

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