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Step by Step Process on How to Report a Stolen Car

a thief breaking into a car before stealing it
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You drive your car from your house to the grocery store. You get out of the car, go inside the store, buy what you need, and then walk out to your vehicle. Except you realize that your car is not where you remember parking. You start to think that maybe you parked somewhere else, only to figure out that your car is nowhere in the parking lot. You realize that someone stole your car while you were shopping for groceries. Now, what do you do? Read on to find out how to report a stolen car.

Steps for Reporting a Stolen Car

What do you do if you find out that someone stole your car? What order of steps should you take when you go to report a missing or stolen vehicle? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are four steps you should take when reporting a stolen car. Keep reading below to find out how to report a stolen car.

Step One

When you first notice that your vehicle is missing, the first step should be to ensure the bank did not repossess it. If you are behind on payments, the bank can take the car away without your knowledge. This is called repossessing the car. If you are not behind on payments and the bank didn’t repossess the car, you should double-check that you didn’t park in a no-parking or tow zone. You might have parked in a spot that you weren’t supposed to, and a tow truck might have towed it away.

Step Two

Once you have checked that your vehicle has not been towed or repossessed, the next step is to contact the police. When you talk to the police, they will ask you for the following information, so be sure to have it on hand.

  • License plate number
  • Make, model, and color of your vehicle
  • Identifying Characteristics and Vehicle Identification Number

You must do this step before the next one because you need the case number or police report before moving on to step number three.

Step Three

The third thing you need to do is file a claim with your insurance company within 24 hours of the theft of your vehicle. When you file a claim, the insurance company might ask you for the police report and the case number. This is why it is important to take these steps in the order we outlined above.

Step Four

The last step is to contact the police and the insurance company if you find the stolen car before the police can find it. Let the police know so that they can stop looking and mark the car as no longer stolen. This is important because the police are using their resources to locate your car and, hopefully, catch the person who stole it.

Contact the insurance company so that they know of any reported damage to your car, so you can make a claim. Assess the damage to your vehicle, if there is any. For damage that costs less than the deductible, you are better off not filing a claim. If the cost of damage is more than the deductible, then you should file a claim with your insurance.

These are the steps to take how to report a stolen car.

a burglar breaking into a car, breaking the window and vandalizing

Ways to Prevent Getting Your Car Stolen

While the statistics of stolen cars are high, you don’t have to be part of those statistics. There are things you can do to prevent having your car stolen, leading you to search for how to report a stolen car. Many people leave their keys in their vehicle or their car unlocked. This makes your car a target for someone looking for a vehicle to steal. One of the biggest preventions of car theft is simple: lock your car and take your keys with you.

Many devices are on the market to help prevent someone from breaking in and taking off with your car. A horn alarm can bring attention to someone breaking into a vehicle, deterring their attempts to steal it. An immobilizing device can prevent someone from bypassing the ignition system, or it can disable electricity or fuel flow to the engine. You can also buy a device that helps the police find the location of your vehicle and hopefully catch the thief before they get too far.

Along with the other safety precautions mentioned above, it is important to have the windows rolled up. It is pointless to lock all of the doors if the windows are rolled down. Even if your car is locked and the windows are rolled up, make sure to take all of your valuables out of the car. Valuables include items such as purses, phones, wallets, iPads, and anything else that would make your car an easy target for potential car thieves.

If you follow these tips to prevent someone from stealing your car, you might be able to save yourself from searching for how to report a stolen car.

What Can Insurance Do?

After you contact the police about your stolen car, you need to notify your insurance company. Unfortunately, whether your vehicle is covered depends on the type of coverage you have in your policy. Most states have a minimum liability requirement for drivers to be able to drive legally on public roads. Some people choose to have the bare minimum amount of insurance to stay legal. Without the minimum amount, they would end up with a fine to pay.

Unfortunately, if all you have is liability insurance, it will not cover you if you file a claim for a stolen vehicle. Liability insurance only covers the other driver and passengers in an accident you are responsible for. Collision coverage will not cover your vehicle either, as it only covers the cost of your car if you are in a collision.

If you have comprehensive coverage, your insurance will cover the vehicle’s current value or the damage related to the theft. Comprehensive coverage covers damage to your car from something outside of an accident, including vandalism, storms, and theft. You will have to pay a deductible first, and then insurance will cover the rest up to the car’s value.

States With the Worst History of Stolen Cars

Some states have a higher rate or number of stolen vehicles than other states do. Several factors go into the total number of stolen cars in the state, including the population of the state and the region of the United States, the overall culture, race, ethnicity, and age of the population.

The top ten states with the highest number of stolen cars include:

  1. California: 202,685
  2. Texas: 105,015
  3. Washington: 46,939
  4. Florida: 45,973
  5. Colorado: 42,237
  6. Illinois: 38,649
  7. Ohio: 29,913
  8. Missouri: 29,345
  9. New York: 28,292
  10. Georgia: 26,529

You can find this information on the Insurance Information Institute website along with other facts and statistics about car thefts in the United States.

A woman wearing sunglasses has her head out the window while sitting in a car driving down a road that's surrounded by trees.

Facts About Car Thefts in the United States

In recent years, the number of car thefts each year in the United States has been increasing to an alarming amount. There were more than 750 thousand cars stolen in the country in 2022. The number of stolen vehicles jumped to over one million in the United States. Passenger cars made up about 74% of the total of vehicles stolen in 2020.

The worst time or season of the year for car thefts is during the summer months. This is because more people are out and about, enjoying the weather, and on vacation, making it the best time for stealing cars. According to the data, a vehicle was stolen every 39 seconds in 2020.

Out of all of the vehicles stolen, most car owners have admitted to leaving their keys in their vehicles. Motor vehicles with the keys left in them and the doors unlocked are a massive target for someone looking to steal a vehicle.

Below are the top five states with the lowest number of car thefts:

  1. Vermont: 264
  2. Maine: 862
  3. Wyoming: 964
  4. New Hampshire: 1,044
  5. Rhode Island: 1,509

ONIT Home is Here to Help

Here at ONIT Home, we take care of our customers by providing them with home services that are customized to meet their needs. We help by demystifying and simplifying home safety and security so you don’t have to do as much research. We provide services and products related to home services, such as water filtration, security, insurance, solar, and maintenance. Reach out to ONIT Home for more information about insurance and security products and services. For our auto insurance services, visit our website here or give us a call at 1-833-433-0331.

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