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Disappeared Without a Trace! What to Do if Your Car is Stolen

In the United States, one vehicle is stolen every 40.9 seconds, and that comes out to just over 700,000 stolen vehicles per year. While auto theft is on the decline, every driver still needs to know exactly what they must do after one of these crimes has occurred. The steps that you take immediately following the theft of your vehicle could have a major impact on your finances for months to come. 

File a Report with the Police

Before you contact the police, you must first make sure that your car hasn’t been misplaced or towed. If you are absolutely certain that it has been stolen, then you must immediately call the police and file a report with an officer. The officer will probably ask for quite a bit of information including the last known location of the vehicle and who has access to the keys. You should also tell them about any eye-catching features that will make the vehicle easier to identify.

Contact Your Insurance Provide

Every auto insurance company is slightly different, but most providers require you to file a stolen vehicle report within 48 hours. Even if your vehicle is found right away, you must file a claim with your insurance provider if you want them to cover any damage that has occurred. You must also call your lender if the vehicle is leased or financed. Some lenders will postpone your payments for a short period of time if the vehicle is stolen.

Inform the DMV

Many people are surprised to hear that the DMV actually helps police departments recover stolen vehicles. The DMV keeps a massive database of every vehicle that is stolen in the country, and that database is almost always referenced when police officers impound or tow a vehicle. Unfortunately, you will most likely need to head into your local DMV and fill out the proper paperwork in order for your vehicle to be placed in that database. 

Repair the Damage

If your vehicle is recovered, you need to look for any signs of damage. If any integral parts are damaged, then you must have them repaired right away. That includes the mirrors, tires, bumpers, doors, and any auto glass. Be sure to contact your insurance company again about repairs if your policy covers this. You should also consider replacing all of the locks or installing a brand new security system. The criminal might have made copies of your keys or disabled the security system.

The best way to prevent your vehicle from being stolen is to be sensible and diligent. Most car thefts are crimes of opportunity, and a thief might not even consider taking your vehicle if every door is locked, the windows are rolled up, and the alarm system has been activated.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.
Tim Esterdahl

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