Time is of the essence when your car is stolen. The longer you wait before reporting the theft, the less chance you have of recovery. The following are some things you can do to keep track of your stolen car.
Report the theft
If you notify the police promptly, they can put the word out and be looking for your vehicle immediately. If it was taken by joy riders, it may still be in the area or recently abandoned.
You will need to fill out a stolen vehicle report and supply all pertinent information such as make, model, year, colour, registration and VIN number.
The police deal with hundreds of stolen cars every week, so the sooner you report the theft, the higher up the priority list you will be and the greater your chance of recovery. You should also contact your car insurance company to report the theft and confirm that you are fully covered.
Track the vehicle
If your car has a GPS tracking unit installed and you report the theft to the monitoring service, they will be able to locate the vehicle and track its movements. There are many such services available in the USA, such as OnStar and LoJack and some now in Australia, such as Toyota Link. When you report the theft to them, they track the vehicle’s movements via satellite and then inform the police of its location. There are also many self-tracking devices that companies use to keep tabs on their fleet vehicles and these can also be used to locate a stolen car.
The thing to remember when self-tracking is not to take the law into your own hands. If you discover where your car is located, call the police and let them deal with it. Trying to recover the vehicle yourself could put you in a dangerous situation.
Put the word out
If your vehicle is not recovered immediately, every day that goes by makes it less likely it ever will be. Vehicles stolen for parts or resale seldom resurface and, after a waiting period, you will need to discuss your options with your motor vehicle insurance provider. In the meantime though, you shouldn’t give up. There are things you can do yourself to continue the search for your vehicle.
If you have a photo of it, make up flyers and post them around the neighbourhood. You could even offer a reward, which may jog someone’s memory about something they have seen or heard. There are also websites, such as stolen-property.com, where you can list the theft for free.
Borrow a car and go for a drive through the local car parks. Car parks at train stations, shopping centres and airports are popular dumping grounds for stolen cars, because they can be left there for days without anyone noticing.
Smart thieves may also leave a stolen car in a car park temporarily, so they can watch to see if it is being tracked. If you do find your vehicle, do not approach it yourself. The thieves may still be in the area, so notify police of its whereabouts and wait for them to arrive.