What to Do if Your Car Gets Stolen
Now that summer is here, more people are on the road taking vacations and long weekends away. It is prime travel time and more vehicles have already popped up on the road since Memorial Day. Thieves like to target travelers and have certain things they look for when deciding to steal a car. If you’re hitting the road over the coming months, make sure you are prepared.
One of the worst things that can happen is car theft, mostly because it’s unexpected. Realizing that your car’s been stolen can instantly make you feel like someone’s punched you in the stomach. It’s something that no one ever wants to face. And, it can cause you to go into panic mode. Before you have a complete freakout, take control of the situation and make sure you know what to do if this terrible ordeal happens to you.
Tip #1: Remember where you park.
The first thing to do is to make sure your car has actually been stolen. If you’ve parked in a multi-level parking garage, at a crowded outdoor concert, or in an area that you’re not too familiar with, then there’s a chance that you might forget where you parked. When you leave your vehicle, make a mental note of a landmark you’re located by or what level you’re on so that you don’t forget when you return to your car later. You may even want to consider going as far as taking a picture on your phone of where exactly it’s parked, or dropping a pin on your smart phone’s map application.
Tip #2: Avoid tow zones.
Make sure that you park in an area where you won’t get towed. Private parking spots and lots can be a prime location for getting your car towed. Don’t risk the odds by parking where you’re not authorized. If it says they tow, there’s no reason not to believe them. Certain areas have regular patrols that look for unauthorized cars. If you’ve parked in an area where there are “no parking” signs or areas in which you might be towed and your car is missing, check with the local towing companies or the police department to see if your car has been impounded. Many people in big cities these days are investing in parking spaces to monetize them. They are pretty serious about towing if you are unauthorized, so be extra cautious of this.
Tip #3: Use your resources.
Tap into the power of technology and take advantage of any in-car system you have, such as OnStar, to help track down your car’s location. If you’ve left your mobile device in your vehicle, you also may be able to track down its location using its GPS system. Don’t be afraid to ask for the help of those around you. Post to your social media accounts or choose a site like eSigns.com to make flyers to place around your community. These signs should include a photo of the vehicle as well as information about the make and model, license plate number, etc. and contact information should anyone have any tips.
After you’ve covered your bases and are sure that your car has indeed been stolen, make sure to contact your local authorities as well as your insurance company to report it. Give a thorough description of your vehicle and anything that may have been left in the car that can further identify it as yours. When making a police report, include all the personal property that was also stolen by whomever took your vehicle. This can include items like keys, electronics, bags, and auto repair tools. If it’s anything of value, report it to both the police and your insurance company as soon as possible.
Of course, there are precautions you can take to help prevent your car being stolen in the first place. Make sure you have locked all your car doors, rolled up the windows, and hidden any valuables out of sight. Park in a well-lit, populated area and if you can, choose an area that is regularly patrolled. However, even if you’ve taken all the proper measures to keep your car safe, you never know when a crisis will strike. That’s why it’s important to keep a cool head and take the rational next steps to solve the problem at hand.
After all is said and done, it’s easy to want to feel distraught for awhile, but you can take it as a lesson learned. Tell yourself to take extra precautions for next time, like having a fool-proof car alarm system, and choose how you want to positively move past the ordeal. A car is stolen once every 44 seconds in the U.S., which is a pretty unnerving statistic, but even if it should happen to you, you don’t have to remain a victim. Unfortunately, auto theft is pretty common but as long as your insurance is up-to-date, you should easily receive the help you need.