You dig your keys out of your pocket and go to unlock your car–and it’s not there.
Someone else has helped themselves to your vehicle. You come back to where you parked it to find it missing. Don’t panic.
Now, you find your car joining the 16,000 vehicles of those with a hijacked or stolen car in South Africa that was reported last year. Here are five starting points of what to do if your car is stolen.
1) Trace Your Steps.
Double-check your location. It seems like a no-brainer, but you will want to make extra sure that you are not misremembering where you parked your car overnight, or while you ran errands.
If your vehicle has an alarm button on the key fob, use it to make sure you do not hear your car in the area. This step just helps to rule out forgetfulness, as you take the next step.
2) Report Your Stolen Car
Reporting your car stolen to the authorities is the next step to take as you verify that your car has been taken. Make sure you are in a safe location and make the phone call to the police to file a report of your stolen car.
Filing a police report will ensure that you can properly inform your insurance company next. Reporting stolen cars earlier can also help to sift through the possibilities of who may have taken it.
Is there someone who may have borrowed the car, that was forgotten about? Is there someone else who would have incentive to purposely steal your car, to inflict more pain upon you? Did you see anyone hanging around the area prior to the car being stolen?
The earlier that these facts are known, the better chances you have of having your car returned to you.
3) File a Claim With Your Car Insurance
Once the police report is filed, the next step is to report the event to your insurance company.
If you had car insurance, depending on your coverage level, they may be able to help you get around by covering a rental car. Insurance may also cover some of the amount towards a new car.
If this option is not available, at the very least, they will be aware that you are not in possession of your vehicle right now. Cutting losses and discussing canceling an insurance policy after a waiting period, may help free up money towards a potential need for a replacement car.
4) Keep Your Eyes Open
Sometimes a thief will list a stolen vehicle, slightly altered, for sale on a marketplace. They may also park it in a visible location with a “for sale” sign on it.
Keep your VIN (vehicle identification number) on hand. If you see a vehicle that looks similar to your stolen car for sale, a VIN is an easy way to verify its identity.
While recovering a car isn’t always easy, it is always worth keeping a lookout for it. You never know what the circumstances could have been.
5) Try to Do Better Next Time
If your car still hasn’t resurfaced, it may, unfortunately, be time to cut losses. Ensuring that the same situation doesn’t happen again may put one’s mind at a little more ease.
Purchasing a recovery warranty may help ease the sting, should another vehicle be stolen or hijacked in the future.