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Survival Guide: What To Do If Your Car Is Stolen

Car theft is on the increase. 4.5% of cars are stolen every single year and when it happens it certainly isn’t fun.

There will be stress, anger, frustration and a high likelihood that you will be stranded somewhere without transport.

No matter how you look at it, it will be a painful situation. However this survival guide will hopefully ease the pain (and your stress levels) by giving you a step-by-step checklist…

1. Is it actually stolen?

This may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s actually not uncommon for people to forget where they parked the car, especially if it’s parked in a different spot every day, or in a large car park. Take a minute to think and assure yourself that this is actually where you left your car.

There are several apps available to help you remember where you parked your car, such as iCarPark. These apps record the GPS position of your car and help you track it down should you forget. Some of the apps also include a parking meter reminder.

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2. Could it have been towed?

If you’ve parked somewhere you shouldn’t (such as in a clearway) it’s possible your car has been towed to get it out of the way. Check the parking signs for any indication of parking restrictions and towing zones.

If you think it may have been towed, it’s likely that the towing company has left your car in a nearby, quieter street. You can try and locate it, or ask a nearby service station where cars are typically towed — they see it all the time.

3. Ask people nearby if they saw anything

Tell them ‘my car was stolen’ and they’ll usually be willing to help. If someone happens to remember seeing your car drive off, they may be able to provide a description of the driver, which will be great information to provide to the police.

4. Call the police

Most cars are recovered within 48 hours. It’s the police’s job to try and track down your car and you’ll need a police report to provide to your insurance company.

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5. Call your GPS tracking company or jump online

If you have GPS tracking fitted, you would have had to sign up to a tracking company. Call them or log in and hopefully you’ll be able to see where your car is. It’s important to give this information to police as quickly as possible before the thief discovers and disconnects the tracker.

6. Phone a friend

You’ll probably be stressed, and you’ll also be without transport. If you can, telling a friend or loved one “my car has been stolen and I need some help” will bring the support you need and hopefully a lift.

7. Call your insurance company

This process can take quite some time. If you do need to repair or replace your car, the longer this process takes, the longer you’ll be without a car, so it’s best to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. If your car is recovered in its original condition, then you can always cancel the claim.

8. Other contacts

If you left your wallet in the car you’ll need to call your credit card company ASAP. Likewise, if you left your keys in the car you should call a locksmith to replace the locks on your house and other premises.

9. Look for your car online

Many cars are stolen to re-birth (meaning to change identity) to resell for a profit. Thieves will want to get rid of your car as quickly as possible, so search for the make, model and year of your car on eBay and Gumtree. The more common your car is, the more difficult this can be. But if you have something less common or a distinguishing feature or colour, this will certainly narrow the search. If you think you’ve found your car, you can pass this information on to the police.

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10. Start thinking about a replacement

After 48 hours, statistics show that you’re unlikely to get your car back. At this point you should start thinking about a replacement vehicle as it takes time to research, find a car and negotiate a vehicle sale.

11. Contact your financier (if you have one)

They will need to liaise with your insurance company for a payout figure if you’re replacing your car.

For more car survival guides and checklists check out the Blue Toro Blog.

Written by Janelle Gonzalez

Corporate escapee and mechanic’s wife Janelle Gonzalez has spent the last 24 years in garages, pit lanes and on road trips. Living a double life - corporate by weekday, trackside on the weekends - she shares her husband’s passion for cars. She has now turned her skills to building Australia’s first national mobile mechanic franchise. Her mission is to help Australians trust mechanics by educating car owners and returning to good old fashioned service values, while changing the lives of mechanics and their families.

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