Picture this: You wake up one morning, ready to start your day, and get going on your usual routine. When you walk outside to your driveway, however, your car is nowhere to be seen. Panic sets in, and you realize that your beloved vehicle has been stolen.
This is a nightmare scenario that many car owners fear—and, unfortunately, it’s not an uncommon occurrence. In fact, according to the FBI, a motor vehicle is stolen in the United States every 45 seconds. So, what should you do if you find yourself in this situation? Here are some steps to take if your car is stolen.
Step 1: Call the police
The first thing you should do if your car is stolen is to call the police. This may seem obvious, but some people may hesitate or think that their car will be found without involving law enforcement. However, reporting the theft to the police as soon as possible can increase the chances of your car being recovered and may help with any insurance claims you need to file. When you call the police, be sure to have your vehicle identification number (VIN) and any other identifying information about your car, such as make, model, and license plate number.
Step 2: Notify your car insurance company
Once you have reported the theft to the police, the next step is to notify your insurance company. Most insurance policies require that you report a stolen car within a certain timeframe, so be sure to check your policy and report the theft as soon as possible. Your insurance company will likely ask for a copy of the police report, so make sure you have that handy when you call.
Step 3: Check surveillance footage
If your car was parked in a public or private lot (see: comprehensive insurance), there may be surveillance footage that can help the police and your insurance company identify the thief and locate your car. Check with the lot owner or manager and ask if they have any cameras that may have captured the theft. If they do, ask for copies of the footage and provide them to the police and your insurance company.
Step 4: Spread the word
In addition to notifying the police and your insurance company, it’s also a good idea to spread the word about your stolen car. Post on social media, reach out to friends and family and let them know that your car has been stolen. The more people who are aware of the theft, the more eyes there are on the lookout for your car.
Step 5: Keep a record of expenses
If your car is stolen, there may be expenses that you incur as a result, such as transportation costs or rental car fees. Keep a record of these expenses and any receipts or invoices that you receive. This information will be helpful when you file an insurance claim.
Step 6: Be patient
Unfortunately, recovering a stolen car is not always a quick or easy process. It may take some time for the police to locate your vehicle, and even if they do, there may be damaged or missing items that need to be replaced. Be patient and allow the authorities to do their job.
Now, if you’re feeling particularly proactive, there are a few additional steps you can take to potentially increase your chances of finding your stolen car. For example, you can:
- Search online marketplaces: Thieves may attempt to sell stolen cars online, so regularly check popular marketplaces such as Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace for any listings that match your stolen vehicle’s make and model.
- Check local salvage yards: Thieves may also strip stolen vehicles for parts, which they can then sell to local salvage yards. Call around local yards and ask if they have any recent arrivals that match your stolen vehicle.
- Hire a private investigator: If your car is still missing after a reasonable amount of time has passed, and the police seem to be at a dead end, you may want to consider hiring a private investigator. Private investigators have access to resources and networks that may not be available to the general public, which can increase the chances of locating your stolen car. However, it’s important to note that hiring a private investigator can be expensive, and there’s no guarantee that they will be successful in finding your car.
Step 7: Consider preventative measures
Once you have recovered your car or received a settlement from your insurance company, you may want to consider taking preventative measures to reduce the risk of theft in the future. This can include installing a car alarm or GPS tracking system, parking in well-lit and secure areas, and never leaving valuables in plain sight.
Having your car stolen is a stressful experience—to say the least—but there are steps you can take to increase the likelihood of a successful recovery and minimize the financial impact. Remember to call the police and your insurance company, check surveillance footage, spread the word, keep a record of expenses, be patient, and consider preventative measures.
With a little bit of luck and a lot of persistence, you can recover from this unfortunate situation and take steps to prevent it from happening again. If you need any assistance or immediate guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out to a YourPolicy agent at (866)236-0203.