The First 5 Things To Do When Your Car Gets Stolen

Car thief

When even minor things happen to our cars, we take it personally.  So when your car gets stolen, it’s a major upheaval.  We can’t make your car theft-proof, but we can guide you toward the first things to do if it happens.

Call the police.  An obvious thing to do, but it doesn’t always get done fast enough.  The sooner the authorities are on it, the better your chances of recovery.  Be prepared to give information on the car itself as well as whether any sets of car keys are missing, when you last saw it, and if there’s any sign of a break-in such as glass on the ground.  

Inventory.  This is information to pass along to the police, your insurance carrier and is good to know yourself as things progress.  Account for the personal items that may have been left in the car.  Compile a list of what’s missing.  If your keys are missing, change corresponding locks.  If credit cards were in the car, notify the issuers.

Call your insurance.  When your car gets stolen, your auto insurance typically handles this under the comprehensive coverage on your policy.  If you only have minimal liability coverage, you’ll still want to notify insurance in case the thief causes damage to other property or vehicles while driving your car.  Be prepared for many of the same questions asked by the police, and then some.  You may be asked about personal finances and how you use the car.  Try not to be offended.  Insurance fraud is a big problem, and your carrier simply wants to rule it out rather than try to lump you into the offenders.  Personal property in the car (iPod, cell phone and so on) may actually have to be filed under your homeowner's or renter's policy rather than your auto coverage.

Stay mobile.  Depending on your policy, your auto insurance may have a provision to provide a rental car in the event of theft.  There may be a waiting period for it to kick in, and it may only provide for basic transportation as opposed to the same type of vehicle that was stolen, but it still beats walking.

Get social.  Social media can be an effective tool when your car gets stolen.  Post a photo along with the car’s details, along with information on when and where it was last seen.  As with reporting to the police and insurance, there are unfortunately no guarantees.  Still, having extra sets of eyes on your side can only increase the odds of recovery.

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