According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, someone steals a car once every 44 seconds. Law enforcement only recover about 55 percent of stolen vehicles. Having your car stolen is a very stressful situation. Not only have you lost a major investment, but you’ve also lost the means for getting to work, taking your kids to school, and running errands. If a thief takes your car, here are the steps you need to take.
Confirm It Was Actually Stolen
Believe it or not, police get calls about “stolen cars” that were, in fact, towed because they were in a no parking zone. Some police departments haul away vehicles that have an abundance of unpaid parking tickets. Consider whether a friend or family member drove your car away and if there’s been a miscommunication.
Get the Police Involved
When you discover a criminal took your car, it’s important to call law enforcement immediately. To file a report, you’ll need to tell police what your car looks like, the make and model, and any distinguishing characteristics. If you have it, provide the officer with your vehicle identification number (VIN), driver’s license number, and license plate number. Once they have a comprehensive profile of your vehicle, the police can add it to regional and national databases to make it more difficult for thieves to sell your car to an unknowing buyer.
In addition to describing your car, tell police if you observed any strange people or circumstances near your car. Be honest about your role in the theft, whether you left the keys in the ignition while you ran inside the gas station or simply left the doors unlocked while you were at work.
Check High-Tech Safety Systems
Many newer cars have services such as OnStar, HondaLink, Uvo, or Safety Connect to provide assistance in an emergency. In some cases, these systems can help locate your car when it’s stolen. Be sure to tell police if you have one of these systems in your stolen car. When police find stolen vehicles, the discovery typically happens within two days of the theft. The advent of on-board emergency systems helps make recovery possible.
Talk to People Who Were in the Area
While you’re waiting for the police to arrive on scene, find out if anyone in the area saw your car get stolen. Stop in businesses that were open when the theft occurred. Getting a description of the perpetrator can help police search for your car.
Reach Out to Your Insurance Agent
Provide your insurance company with the same information you provided for the police report. Let them also know what personal belongings you had in the vehicle. It’s important to call your insurance agent as soon as possible to avoid liability if the thief uses your car to damage someone else’s vehicle. You don’t want to be held liable for the actions of a criminal.
If a criminal takes your car, you should act quickly and be observant. When you get the police and your car’s emergency service involved, you have a better chance of having your vehicle returned to you.