America is the land of the automobile. Unfortunately, it is also the land of automobile theft. Although the rate of car theft is declining, thousands of Americans still get their cars stolen every day. In 2006 alone, 1,192,809 vehicles were reported stolen.
America’s shopping centers are not only playgrounds for bargain hunters, they are also playgrounds for car thieves. Hundreds of cars left unattended and unsecured make them ripe for the picking. If you were one of their victims, we feel your pain. Getting your car stolen sucks, but it isn’t the end of the world. If your car is ever stolen, you need to remain calm and follow these five steps.
Five Steps To Take After Your Car Is Stolen
- Call the police – After making checking around the parking lot and making sure you just didn’t forget where you parked, call the police. You should contact your local police office immediately and file a “stolen vehicle report.” The reason this is important is because the police will know to contact you if the vehicle ever “turns up” somewhere or if they find the vehicle. In addition, your insurance provider won’t be able to file a claim for you unless you first file a stolen vehicle report with the police.
- Call your insurance company – Your insurance provider will only be able to help you replace your stolen vehicle if you have comprehensive coverage. With that being said, you should still contact your insurance company immediately even if you aren’t covered for theft. If the thief crashes into somebody else or if he harms others while driving your car, you will be protected. If you are covered for theft (AKA – you have comprehensive coverage), you shouldn’t worry. The insurance company will replace your stolen vehicle for you.
- Give your insurance company your information – When you call up your insurance company to report your vehicle stolen, make sure you have the following information available:
- When and where you last saw your vehicle.
- Title of the vehicle or a copy of your lease.
- Your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN Number).
- A description of your vehicle including estimated mileage, past repair work, any current damages, upgrades, and options.
- Names and addresses of people who had access to your car.
- Location of all the keys to the vehicle.
- The police report number as well as the police department you filed your stolen vehicle report with.
- Contact the bank – If your car was leased or if you had a loan for your vehicle, you should also contact your bank or your leasing company to inform them of the theft.
- Sit back and wait – Often times the police will recover your vehicle unscathed, but this does not happen the majority of the time. After you file a claim, your insurance agent will go over the next steps with you. If your insurance policy provides you with rental cars in these situations, your agent will also help you with that.
How To Prevent Auto Theft In The Future
Now that your car has been stolen and you have completed all the paper work and reports, your next step should be to learn about things you can do to prevent this type of situation in the future. Let’s take a look at the things you can do to prevent car theft:
- Install anti-theft devices such as lo-jacks and car alarms
- Always lock your car
- Never leave your keys in the car when your car is unattended
- Never leave valuables in plain view when your car is unattended
- Always park in safe areas that are well-lit and high traffic
There are also some things you should consider doing as preventative measures in case your car is stolen:
- Install a GPS or some other sort of tracking device to help authorities track down your car if it is stolen.
- Get an immobilizing device such as a fuel cut off or a “kill switch” so you can stop the thief dead in his tracks before he gets too far.
- Keep copies of important documents like your registration, title, license, insurance cars, maintenance reports, etc. in a safe place outside of your car. This will make the stolen vehicle report process much easier and less stressful.
- Take pictures of your car for insurance purposes. This can help prove damages in case your car is damaged or seriously altered post-theft.
Although nobody should ever have to go through the troubles of having their car stolen, you can protect yourself and make the process much more bearable if you just follow these simple steps. Make sure to choose a reliable and reputable insurance company. In case of vehicle theft, they will be able to help you get back on your feet and get on with your life.