What To Do When Your Car Gets Stolen

One of the worst things that can happen to you is having your car stolen. To take the guessing out of such a horrible situation, Jalopnik readers have a to-do checklist for when it happens.

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What To Do When Your Car Gets Stolen

10.) Make sure your car is actually gone

Suggested By: Nate Mason

Why: Everybody has walked into a parking garage or out of the grocery store and not been able to find their car. Maybe you parked on a different level, or in a different row, but either way, your car isn't gone, you just can't find it. Don't confuse this with it being stolen. And there are other reasons your car might be gone. In the place where you parked, is there a fire hydrant all of a sudden? You may want to check the police impound before you move on to the next step.

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What To Do When Your Car Gets Stolen

9.) Ask yourself if it might have been towed

Suggested By: Nate Mason

Why: There's also a good chance your car was towed. Think if you have a ton of outstanding parking tickets, if there's a chance it could be repo'd, or if you parked in a terrible spot.

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What To Do When Your Car Gets Stolen

8.) Call the police

Suggested By: $kaycog

Why: Once you're sure that your car is actually gone, the first thing you'll want to do is call the police-quickly. If you've ever heard the statistics about kidnappings, more than half of all cases are solved within the first 48 hours. The same logic holds true for your stolen car: the sooner you get police looking for it, the more likely it is they'll find it.

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What To Do When Your Car Gets Stolen

7.) Call OnStar/LoJack

Suggested By: zacarious

Why: If your vehicle is equipped with one of these services, the police may well call for you. If they don't, however, call yourself and get the people on the other line to shut that **** down, or at least tell you where your car is and where it's headed. Both will really give you a head start on getting your car back.

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What To Do When Your Car Gets Stolen

6.) Ask people nearby if they saw anything

Suggested By: Marimvibe's curtain call

Why: If you were parked on the side of a deserted highway, it's unlikely anyone saw anything. On the other hand, if you were parked on a busy street corner, or in the parking lot of a bowling alley, there's a good chance someone may have seen your car leaving. (Whether or not they remember that is another question.)

Photo Credit: Rian Castillo

What To Do When Your Car Gets Stolen

5.) Freak out

Suggested By: Demon-Xanth

Why: Ok, you've held it together to this point and gotten the most time-sensitive things done. Now give yourself a break to freak out a bit, because getting your car stolen totally sucks. A lot of people find a string of expletives to be calming. But don't go overboard on your four letter words, because you need to get back to work.

Photo Credit: Rian Castillo

What To Do When Your Car Gets Stolen

4.) Call your insurance company

Suggested By: racer147

Why: It's pretty unlikely you're going to get a claims check for your car the day it's stolen. However, anybody who's dealt with an insurance company in any capacity ever knows that this process is going to take some time. So in order to ensure that you might have a replacement set of wheels by the time the next decade rolls around, get your claim started early.

Photo Credit: Yago Veith

What To Do When Your Car Gets Stolen

3.) Look for your car online

Suggested By: ImRightYoureNot

Why: This step has varying levels of usefulness. If you drive a champagne-colored 2006 Toyota Camry, chances are you're not going to find your particular car listed for sale amongst the other 10,000 identical clones online. But if you have a red 1969 Alfa Romeo GTV with a dent on the rear quarter panel and Recaro seats, you may have a pretty good chance of finding your car on eBay, Craigslist, or in specific forums.

Photo Credit: Count Rushmore

What To Do When Your Car Gets Stolen

2.) Start thinking of replacements

Suggested By: elchimpo

Why: A car is a big purchase decision, usually the largest any of us makes after a house. It shouldn't be rushed, so even if you're holding out hope that your car will be returned, it's intelligent to start thinking of what you'll buy if your car never makes it home again. And, as some commenters pointed out, if you previously had a crappy car, the whole process of it being stolen can be relieving.

Photo Credit: Raphael Orlove

What To Do When Your Car Gets Stolen

1.) Learn from it

Suggested By: benmoo

Why: The worst thing that can happen to you is that your car gets stolen and you learn nothing from it. The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. So, in the future, lock your car. Or don't park it in that neighborhood, or don't leave it outside overnight, or maybe have a security system installed. Obviously you won't be able to guarantee your next car won't be stolen, but you can certainly learn from your mistakes (or the thieves' genius) and try and lower your chances in the next round.

Photo Credit: Mareen Fischinger