What to do if Your Car Has Been Stolen


Despite all of the measures currently in place to prevent vehicle theft, the FBI says that a vehicle is stolen in the United States every 43 seconds.

As a car owner, there is a 1 in 186 chance that your car could be stolen. If it happens to you, there are a number of items to gather to ensure that nothing is left out when it comes to reporting the incident.

First, before you panic and call the cops, call the local car impound lot or lots. This is in case it was already found and then impounded. Also, perhaps the car was improperly parked, and towed to the lot. It’s a good idea to check the impound lots to ensure the car is stolen.

Second, find and organize the vehicle’s identifying information. That includes the VIN number, make, model, year, color and license plate numbers. This is all important information that will be needed for a police report.  This information is vital and will help paint a picture of your car to the police. Also, be sure to tell them of any identifying marks or distinguishing features of your car. An actual picture of your car will help too. Call the police and use all the information you gathered above to file a police report. Filing the report is an important part of the next steps as well, as your insurance and (if needed) financial institution will need copies of the report.

Third, after filing the report, get your insurance information and give your provider a call. Insurance will also want to know where any extra keys are, and the names of anyone who has access to your car. Additionally, take note of anything that was stored in your car like CD’s, laptops, jumper cables and tools. Some insurance companies will fully or partially reimburse valuables lost in a stolen car.

Finally if there is still money owed on the car, get the financing, or leasing company’s contact information.

Both the insurance and finance/leasing companies will want to get the police report before they approve or decline a claim, so ensure that the report step was properly completed, and that you have copies and all relevant information.

All that’s left to do is sit tight and wait for the police to do their job. If you do find your car, report it, rather than risk a confrontation with the thief.

Worried about your car getting stolen? There are a few stats that point out that general driving and parking habits affect your car’s chances of being stolen.

According to Coloradans Against Auto Theft (, half of all thefts happen with the keys still in the car. The organization also recommends not leaving your car on while running quick errands, and to not park in dimly lit parking lots.

Preventing theft is hard, but not with the right equipment. Vehicle immobilizers and third-party anti-theft alarms will all help you out, since of all car thefts, 42% aren’t recovered and only 13% of recovered cars result in arrests. It might sound like a dire situation, but if the tips above are followed, the odds of seeing your vehicle again increase significantly.

1 Comment

Jme927 says:

One of the things you could have included is ……to make sure you buy a car with Onstar. Several insurance companies now give discounts for cars equipped with Onstar and professional car thieves will think twice about stealing a car which can be tracked, and set up by the police, and immobilized instantly with the push of a button.