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What to Do If Your Car Is Stolen

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What to do if your car is stolen. Photo: William Hoiles

If your car were ever stolen, you should prepare yourself by knowing your options.  Photo: William Hoiles

We’ve all had that moment – you walk outside in search for your car, but you don’t see it right away. Most often, you’re just in the wrong row or wrong level of the parking garage. But what happens if your car really was stolen? Where do you even begin?

Unfortunately, a car is stolen every 44 seconds in the U.S. according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Here, we’ve outlined a few steps on what to do if your car is stolen.

Are you sure?

It’s easy to panic and assume the worst, but take a moment to calmly think through every scenario. Are you positive you’re looking in the right parking garage or lot? Could your car have been repossessed or towed?

Call the police.

If your car really was stolen, time is of the essence. Call the police right away to file a report. Be prepared to give a detailed description of the car, including VIN, license plate number, and your driver’s license, if possible. In most cases, the police will add our car’s information to a national database, making it difficult for the thief to re-title or sell your car.

Use technology.

Hopefully your car has one of the many services that make it easy to track your car – some will even lock the car down, making it in-operable until you regain possession of it. LoJack, GM’s OnStar, Toyota’s Safety Connect, and Hyundai’s Blue Link all provide tracking services using GPS technology. Be sure to let the police know if your car has any system that may help track it.

Notify Your Insurance Company.

This step is sometimes overlooked in the chaos of the moment, but it’s particularly important to protect yourself in case the thief causes any damage or injury using your car. You’ll need to provide a description of the car, any personal property left inside of it, along with the location of all sets of keys for the car.

According to, 40-50 percent of car theft is the result of driver error, so check out these tips for avoiding car theft before it even happens. We hope you never need the tips we’ve provided here, but it’s always better to be prepared than to be caught completely off guard.