If your car is stolen, you may well feel as if part of your world is over. You put a lot of your personality and self into that car! Plus, you kept some important stuff and paperwork in there. Truly a bummer.
But once the proverbial dust settles and you come to the conclusion that thieves jacked your ride, what should your first step be?
- Finding your car missing can result in confusion and a rush of adrenaline, but don’t let it overtake you! Take a deep breath. It’s easy to panic, but doing so will only put you at risk of making a key mistake.
- Verify that your car was, in fact, stolen. Did you park it in another place? It can be easy to think your car is missing when it’s actually a few hundred yards that way. Also check with the lot owner and tow companies to make sure you were not towed. If it vanished from your driveway, check with anyone who might have seen shenanigans going on.
- Call the police. The second you have verified that your car has been stolen, you need to file a police report. Time is of the essence. The faster you report, the more likely it is that the car will be recovered. If you have a GPS or a tracker in your car, make sure the police know. They can often use these devices to find it. Make sure you give them the VIN (and never leave the insurance card in the car to be stolen along with it). The majority — over 85% — of stolen vehicles are recovered. Filing a police report will also protect you if your vehicle is used in the commission of a crime.
- Contact your insurance company. If you have your car insured against theft you can immediately start the process of filing a claim. If you only have liability insurance, then your insurance company still needs to know so that you are not held responsible for the damage. Comprehensive insurance is recommended unless your car is worth very little. Filing the claim may be complicated. You will need to provide a list of the belongings that were in your car at the time of the theft.
- Call the DMV. This will put your car into a database of stolen cars, which will then flag if the thieves attempt to sell the car.
- Inform your leasing company or financier. They will probably want to talk to your insurance company. If it is a leased car, then the insurance payment will go to the bank, and you will not get a refund on payments you have already made. If there is a difference between the lease amount and what insurance pays, you will be liable for the remainder. You should buy a gap insurance policy if leasing, even if the leaser does not require it.
- It’s a good idea to look for your car on Craigslist and other internet sites, especially if you have a less popular make and model. For those of you who had a car stolen in South Florida, here’s the direct link to the Miami Craigslist “for sale” page.
- Look for a temporary replacement vehicle. Talking to your dealer can help you find a reasonably priced rental. In most cases, insurance will cover this cost. If your insurance would cover the cost of a temporary replacement because of damage, ask if they will also do it because of theft.
Will My Stolen Car Ever Be Recovered?
If your car is recovered, then you should have it checked by a mechanic to ensure the thieves did no hidden damage. Your insurance should cover you for this damage if you have comprehensive insurance, but it is also important to know that the car is safe to drive. If you recover the car yourself, talk to the cops before having it cleaned, as they may want to check it for evidence to try and track down the thieves.
If your car is not recovered, then bear in mind that it can take time to get a payment from your insurance company. They will want to investigate to make sure it is not fraud — a common scenario, sadly — and give the police a fair chance to recover the car. Again, over 85% of stolen cars are recovered, most of which are in the same condition in which they were taken.
Buy A New Car In South Florida
If there’s a perk to having your car stolen, it’s that you get to test drive some new ones. Although we can’t act like detectives in search of your stolen vehicle, we can help you get back on your feet. Our South Florida Honda Dealers have many options available, including affordable certified used cars and brand-new Honda models. Just contact your nearest South Florida car dealer for more info and good luck!