Yup. Every 43 seconds, a vehicle gets stolen in the USA according to data from the FBI. That number is insane, considering all the high-tech security alarms in cars and cities armed with millions of CCTV’s. But, car thieves seem to adapt to new technology as fast as security experts can think of them.
We know losing anything to thieves can be traumatic and devastating. If your car vanishes out of thin air, take a deep breath and collect yourself. We’ve prepared a list of steps you need to do before you can utter a guttural cry of “why me?”
Following these steps can help you put things in perspective.
1. Make sure Your Car was Actually Stolen
Before you freak out and panic, make sure that your car is really missing! Think about where you parked. Was it a few levels up or down? Could you have stationed in a different building altogether?
Parking lots have numbered “zones” painted on the floors, walls, and pillars (A-5, E-17). There’s a real chance you may have just forgotten exactly where you parked. Ask building security if they can help you track your car using the security video feed.
Lastly, did you let someone borrow your car?
2. Maybe You Got Towed?
Illegal parking can lead to parking tickets and your car getting towed. If you did a little curbside parking and your car isn’t in a spot where you parked, check with the impound lot first before calling the cops.
By checking the local impound, you won’t have to fill out a police report, which saves everybody time.
3. Go to the Police
If your initial search fails and there’s no trace of your car, it’s time to report the incident to the police. Make sure you give the officer all the vital details of your vehicle and the event. You should be ready with your car’s VIN number, make, model, year, color and any unique identifying marks like a custom paint job or decals.
Taking your car’s documentation with you is a good idea and can save you extra trips to the police station. You should also try to recall everything that happened on the day of the car theft. The date, time, location, weather, the people you met, etc. are critical.
4. Call the Insurance Company
After filing a police report, you need to call your insurance company to let them know that your car is missing. Get your policy number ready and fill the insurance adjuster in on precisely what happened. What you reported to the police would do.
Try to recall anything valuable inside the car when it got stolen. Your wallet, phone, laptop, designer sunglasses, house keys, documents, checkbooks, etc.
What you get out of your insurance claim will depend on your coverage.
5. Be Proactive
Call your bank if your credit cards are missing and change all the locks in your house if you left your house keys in the stolen car. Go online and search for your car on Craigslist and other used car sites. There’s a small chance your vehicle ends up for sale on the internet because there are a lot of people who prefer to buy a used car. Just don’t confront or meet up with the suspects. Tell the cops what you found.
After taking all the steps outlined above, all you can do is sit back and let the authorities handle the case as car theft is common in the USA. Remember that when you report a stolen car immediately after the theft, the chances of recovering it are higher.
Oh, and you can utter a guttural cry now 🙂