What Do You Do If Your Car Gets Stolen?

Car theft is on the rise. With Covid still raging, our need for cars is high, and many people are still out of work. This creates a strong cause-and-effect balance that has some ugly results. Coming out to find your car missing has got to be one of the worst feelings a motorist can have. There are a few things you can do to lower the chances of your car getting stolen, but you can only do so much. Some cars are known to be stolen more often, like the Honda Civic and some are stolen more easily, but what are you supposed to do when you find yourself a victim of car theft? 

So, you’re the owner of a stolen car

The first step should always be to take a minute to make sure your ride wasn’t towed. Once you have covered your bases there, the next thing you need to do is call the police and alert them that you believe your car was stolen. According to Liberty Mutual, they will want to know a few bits of information; 

NYPD van next to the side walk
A NYPD car patrols in South Williamsburg Brooklyn | KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images
  • Make, model, year, and color of your car
  • Any distinct features of your car
  • License plate number
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Information about your GPS or tracking system, if you have one
  • Where and when you last saw your car

You’ve called the police, now what? 

Your insurance will probably want to know the situation. Liberty Mutual recommends alerting your insurance provider within 24 hours of the car theft or as soon as possible after filing the police report. Unfortunately, there will probably be more questions along the line of what the police asked, but they may also ask for a list of any valuables left in the car like phone, computer, etc. They will likely also ask for a copy of the police report. 

How many stolen cars actually get found?

Only around half of the cars stolen get returned to their owners. Depending on the type of car, most are stolen to be stripped to sell the parts. The quicker this process happens, the lower chance the criminals have of getting caught. 

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So what can you do to help your car be found if it was stolen?

There isn’t a lot you can do once the car has been stolen, but there are a few things you can do to help find it or help it not be stolen in the first place. The police are going to have a hard time finding a white Chevy Silverado. That is the most common car color on a very common model truck. A strong preventative step you can take is to give your car something that helps it stand out. 

Another more 21st-century solution might be to install some sort of GPS tracker somewhere on your car. There are certainly ways around this for car thieves, but it is a worthwhile investment for those car thieves who aren’t tech wizards who know how to scramble GPS trackers like some sort of spy novel. 

Like any other crime, a witness is your best first lead. If there are any CCTV or personal home perimeter cameras, this can also help gather some clues on who stole the car and where they might be going with it. 

Finding a stolen car is a numbers game

Of course, you’ve called the police, and they are keeping an eye out, but if you live in or near a city with heavy cab service, you can call the cab companies as well as Uber, Lyft, or whoever else and put the word out. Unlike the police, these companies aren’t obligated to look for you, but they employ hundreds if not thousands of people who can cover far more roadway than any police force. This is an undervalued tactic that can yield strong results. 

Lastly, if you don’t already have it somewhere, write down your VIN somewhere safe and secure. This can be the way you prove your car is yours if you happen to come across it. You can also register it as a stolen car VIN, and it will get flagged if someone tries to sell your car. 

It’s not perfect but it’s something

There is no guaranteed way to get a stolen vehicle back from the lowlifes who decide to help themselves to our things, but these steps can help form a web that makes it harder for the ne’er do wells to get away with it. Takes these steps to make your car more findable in the event of a theft, and if such a thing happens, you can follow the steps to get the word out and be prepared to help the authorities find your vehicle.