Car theft: What do I do if my car is stolen?

If you're the victim of car theft, there are a few phone calls you need to make.

Picture this: you walk out of the mall, shopping bags in hand. You head over to where you parked…and your car isn’t there. It’s gone. Vanished. And unless your car has learned to drive itself, you realize with gut-wrenching horror that it’s been stolen. So, what now? Is there any hope of seeing your beloved car ever again?

Well, there are a few things you need to do if you’re ever the victim of Grand Theft Auto. Check out our steps below.

1. Stay calm and give yourself a second to think.

Okay, here’s the thing:

Sometimes we tend to jump to the worst conclusion. Before you go into panic mode, think through some other options. Could you have parked on the other side of the mall? (We’re all human and we’ve all been there when it comes to I-forgot-where-I-parked.) Or were you parked near a No Parking or Tow-Away sign? Maybe your car was towed and you need to check with local lots. Have you fallen behind on car payments? Your car may have been repossessed. If your car disappeared from your home or neighborhood, is it possible that a family member with access to your keys borrowed it?

Your knee-jerk reaction to your car not being where it’s supposed to be might be panic, but try to take a breath and think through other possibilities if you’re not 100% sure that your vehicle is not where you left it.

2. Call the police.

Okay. So, your deep-breath-and-think moment didn’t lead to any epiphanies. There’s no other possibility – the car has been stolen.

Now it’s time to get the police involved.

The quicker you get the authorities involved with the car theft, the more likely you are to get your vehicle back. File the police report and give the authorities any details you can about the car – year, make, model, color, license plate number, Vehicle Identification Number (if you happen to have your insurance card, it will probably have your VIN listed.)

If your car has GPS or navigation capabilities, let the police know. It could help them find the car and return it to you.

If you have comprehensive insurance, you should be covered for car theft.

3. Talk to your insurance company.

Once you’ve gotten the police involved, it’s time to contact your car insurance company.

They’ll help you get started with the claim. If you have comprehensive coverage, you’re protected against losses or damages to your vehicle that aren’t caused by a collision, like fire, vandalism, falling objects (i.e. trees) and yes – theft. If you only have liability insurance, you won’t be covered for car theft because liability covers your responsibilities to other drivers that you injure or whose property you damage in an accident – not your own vehicle.

Still, it’s a good idea to let the insurance company know about the car theft even if you only have liability coverage. The person who took your car could cause property damage or injury using your vehicle and your liability insurance may help you.

4. Consider contacting your local Department of Motor Vehicles.

Your DMV might have a database or record of vehicles that have been stolen. You may want to think about informing them that your car has been stolen.

5. Contact your lender or financing company.

If you still have a car payment and owe money to a leasing company, you’ll need to tell them that the car has been stolen. Much of the time they will work with your insurance company directly to deal with the car theft.

But it’s important to prevent your car from being stolen in the first place.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a car is stolen in the United States every 46 seconds. So, you can see why it’s important to take care to prevent a car theft with the following tips…

  • Take your car key with you
  • Close and lock all windows and doors when you leave your vehicle
  • Park in well-lit, well-traveled areas
  • Don’t leave valuables in the car (or hide them before you depart for your destination)
  • Don’t leave your car running and unattended
  • Consider getting an anti-theft device

These tips can also help you with preventing a car break-in. Take precautions to protect your vehicle.

So, that’s the deal with car theft. There are a few phone calls you have to make after you’re sure that the car has in fact been stolen. First, the police. Then, your insurer. And then your leasing or financing company. So, yes, it might mean you have a lot of time on the phone in your future, but hopefully it results in your car coming home.

Need some auto insurance? We would be happy to help you get some quotes so you can save money on your auto insurance. Our agents are experts at helping people find the best coverage at the best rate. All you have to do to get quotes is fill out our online form or call us today.