What to Do When Car is Stolen: Your Coping Guide

Amid the distress of a car theft, the right strategy can greatly enhance your prospects of rapidly reclaiming your vehicle and keeping the loss to a minimum.

The most straightforward route to recover a stolen car is via its unique VIN number. Moreover, if your vehicle lacks a tracking device, alternatives like examining footage from your car security camera or reaching out to your insurance provider can be fruitful. This all-encompassing guide is designed to arm you with ten powerful tactics to effectively locate your stolen vehicle.

Verifying If Your Car is Stolen

Before initiating a hunt for your purportedly stolen car, it’s crucial to validate if it has indeed gone missing. Prioritize determining whether your car is genuinely stolen to avoid unnecessary panic.

Consider these handy tips for a stolen car check:

  • Scout the parking lot meticulously. Public parking lots are a prime locale to commence your search for a lost vehicle. It’s possible you’ve simply misplaced the exact location of your car. Should you struggle to recall your car’s parking spot, you can utilize a “Find Stolen Car” app on your iPhone or Android smartphone. Explore more similar apps for assistance.
  • Consult towing companies before declaring your car stolen.
  • Leverage the vehicle’s VIN number to track its location. The VIN check incorporates a comprehensive history report encompassing accident and service records. Employ license plate and VIN number checks to ascertain if a car is stolen.

If, after these measures, your car is confirmed stolen, act swiftly and decisively!

Discovering Your Stolen Car: 10 Practical Methods

In the distressing scenario of a car theft, you may be pondering “How can I locate my stolen vehicle?” Fear not! This guide unpacks every potential strategy for tracking a stolen car and retrieving your lost vehicle, complete with detailed instructions.

1. Lodge a Police Report for Your Stolen Car

If your car is stolen, particularly with a child, pet, or any other valuable inside, it’s imperative to contact the police immediately. As you file a police report, be prepared to share comprehensive details about your missing vehicle, generally encompassing:

  • The license plate (this can significantly aid the police in locating your stolen car)
  • The VIN
  • Your personal identification
  • Your car’s make, model, and color
  • The last known location of your car
  • Any car tracking device you have installed, such as LoJack or OnStar

Retain a copy of the report for subsequent insurance claims. Offering an exhaustive amount of detail improves the likelihood of the police aiding you in reclaiming your missing vehicle.

Note: If your vehicle has been stolen and subsequently impounded by the police (this can occur if they encounter your car while investigating traffic violations), be sure to bring your ID card, driving license, and other documents demonstrating vehicle ownership. Adequate proof expedites the process of reclaiming your stolen car.

2. Track Stolen Car with VIN Number

When your car is stolen, you can locate your stolen vehicle with the VIN number. A vehicle identification number (VIN) is a unique code used by vehicle industry to identify individual motor vehicles, towed vehicles, motorcycles, scooters, mopeds, etc. You can track a stolen car online with the vehicle identification number.

The VIN serves dual purposes. Not only does it assist in checking the whereabouts of your lost vehicle, but it’s also a vital tool in executing a stolen car search. Here’s how you can leverage your VIN to find your stolen car:

  1. Firstly, head over to AutoCheck to procure a vehicle history report. This report typically costs between $30 and $40.
  2. In the vehicle history report search screen, enter your unique vehicle identification number as well as your credit card details. What follows is a detailed, chronological history of the locations where your car was registered, titled, and serviced. The final known registration or service location is likely to be the most recent location of your car, thus enabling you to narrow down your search radius considerably. With this approach, you can expedite the process of regaining your stolen car.
  3. Finally, engage the police in your search. Armed with the information you provide, they can assist in tracking down your stolen vehicle.

3. Use GPS to Locate Your Stolen Vehicle

Should you have the foresight to have equipped your car with a GPS tracking system, such as OnStar or LoJack, you’ve significantly simplified the process of recovering your stolen vehicle. In fact, the company behind your tracking system can not only pinpoint the location of your stolen car but also disable it.

The place of theft, be it a dealership, driveway, parking garage, valet service, or mechanic shop, makes no difference. Armed with GPS, you can swiftly track your vehicle, no matter where it’s been stolen from.

4. Utilize Security Camera Footage to Locate Your Stolen Vehicle

In the event of a car theft, turning to your security footage should be one of your earliest responses. For optimal clarity, consider a 4K security camera. Video recordings captured by 4K security cameras can be a powerful tool in tracking down your stolen vehicle. You might want to explore the following options:

  • Inspect the security camera footage from your garage or home. Detailed video recordings can potentially reveal the thief’s face clearly, and provide an insight into their escape route. Possessing such evidence significantly uplifts the odds of locating your stolen car.
  • Review your community’s security camera footage, granted permission. If your vehicle was stolen from a communal area such as a public driveway, local security camera systems may have recorded the path of your stolen car. For instance, the owner of a stolen Chevrolet Silverado successfully retrieved his car by examining a local primary school’s security camera systems.

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5. Engage with Your Insurance Provider

In the unfortunate event of your car being stolen, one of your initial calls should be to your insurance provider. If you are covered under a comprehensive insurance policy at the time of theft, you can qualify for a ‘car stolen’ insurance payout.

If you manage to locate your stolen car after having claimed the insurance, remember to notify your insurance company immediately. Understand that your recovered vehicle is now the property of the insurer. However, if you wish to regain ownership, you have the option of repurchasing the car from the company.

6. Notify Your Leasing Company in the Case of a Stolen Rental

In case the stolen vehicle was a rental, it’s crucial that the leasing company is notified as soon as you discover its absence. Enlighten them about the police report you’ve made and request the specific identification numbers and tags of the car.

It’s also vital to acquire an incident form from the rental company and acquaint yourself with their contract terms about the liability insurance you’ve opted for. If you had wisely chosen full coverage from the leasing company, rest assured you’d be covered for the theft, provided you adhered to the contract at the time of the incident.

7. Engage Cab Companies in Your Stolen Car Search

Cab drivers can be a unique asset in locating your stolen vehicles. Regardless of the circumstances, reaching out to all cab companies within the vicinity of the theft does boost your chances of finding your stolen car.

Bear in mind that taxi drivers substantially outnumber law enforcement officers in the area, thereby augmenting the likelihood of spotting your missing vehicle. As an added measure, consider offering a reward, say $100, to the taxi driver who assists in tracking down your stolen car. Such a reward serves as a persuasive motivation for a broader spectrum of individuals to participate in your search, thereby amplifying the prospect of retrieving your stolen car.

8. Leverage Your City’s Transportation Website for Parking Violations After Vehicle Theft

Internet can come to your rescue in the hunt for your stolen vehicle. Thieves often abandon stolen vehicles in public spaces, where they are ticketed for parking violations and entered into an online database.

Here are the clear-cut steps to facilitate an online ‘stolen vehicle’ search:

  1. Visit your city’s transportation website.
  2. Utilize your license plate number to scrutinize whether your vehicle appears in the database.
  3. Determine the location of the violation.
  4. Get in touch with the authorities. The police will actively hunt for your stolen vehicle and, once found, it will be returned to you.

9. Check Online Marketplaces for Parts of Your Stolen Vehicle

Take your search online; you might just spot your stolen vehicle—or parts of it—being peddled on the internet. If your theft-stripped car parts are posted for sale, identifying the seller could lead you back to your precious automobile. Harness the power of automated search systems like Craigslist checker to track down parts from your stolen car, whether they were grabbed from your apartment complex or other locations.

Should you recognize parts belonging to your stolen car, promptly alert the police before making any arrangements to meet with the seller. Dealing with car thieves can be risky business. With the support of law enforcement, you can retrieve your stolen car in a safer and more streamlined fashion.

10. Maintain a Record of Valuables In your Vehicle

While a stolen car is disheartening, remember that your insurance company can cover your losses, inclusive of personal items that were in the vehicle, subject to your policy terms.

Instead of surrendering to despair, promptly record all valuable belongings present in the vehicle while your recollection is still vivid. Prepare the receipts for items you plan to claim from insurance to alleviate your losses.

In addition to these proactive steps to find your stolen car, we provide comprehensive answers to the most burning queries around vehicle theft, such as details about stolen car insurance, the probability of recovering stolen vehicles, and more.

Is Bluetooth Capable of Tracking a Stolen Car?

Numerous car owners grapple with the question of whether Bluetooth can assist in tracking a stolen car. The reality is that while Bluetooth is a powerful technology, its range is circumscribed—ordinarily up to 100 meters or about 328 feet. This makes it inefficient for long-distance tracking of a stolen car. Bluetooth’s tracking capabilities are better suited for short-range tasks, such as retrieving lost keys or pointing out devices in the vicinity.

For reliable tracking of a stolen car, one needs a more potent, long-range tracking system. A GPS tracking device or a comprehensive vehicle security system would be more efficacious in such scenarios.


1. Does Insurance Cover Stolen Cars?

If your car is insured under a comprehensive policy, you are eligible for compensation from your insurance provider. To ensure compensation in the event of theft, vandalism, or accidental damage, you need to opt for both collision and comprehensive insurance.

2. How Long Before Insurance Pays Out for a Stolen Car?

Upon discovering your car’s theft, file a claim immediately provided you have comprehensive insurance coverage. The insurance company will embark on a thorough investigation before reimbursing your loss. Typically, there is a 30-day waiting period before car insurance companies settle theft claims to allow for potential recovery of the vehicle.

If your stolen car is recovered with damages, your insurance company will determine whether the car is salvageable or a total write-off. If the car is deemed a total loss, the company will compensate you the actual cash value of your car.

If your stolen vehicle resurfaces post-insurance settlement, ownership is retained by the insurance company. The vehicle may be auctioned or sold off for salvage. However, you have the option to repurchase your stolen car, depending upon the company’s guidelines and legal provisions.

3. What Percentage of Stolen Cars is Recovered?

According to Progressive Insurance’s data, the average car theft recovery rate in the U.S. stands at 46%. However, this rate varies significantly from state to state. For instance, the stolen car recovery rate in Washington is 71%, in Utah it’s 63%, and in Alabama it’s a mere 28%.

Despite these numbers, the overall chance of recovering a stolen car is relatively high. Therefore, staying optimistic serves you well if your car gets stolen.


One crucial fact to remember is that regardless of the make or model of your car, and irrespective of your location (unless it’s the North Pole), your vehicle is always susceptible to theft. Don’t make the assumption that your car is immune to theft because it’s parked in your yard or because it’s not of high value. Car thieves are opportunists—they will seize any chance they get. Stay vigilant!

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