6 Steps to Take if Your Car is Broken Into

Car thefts are just as common, if not more, than home burglaries. Having your property stolen can cause a significant damper on your day. The experience of discovering or witnessing your car being broken into is shocking and unpleasant, especially when you take extra precautions to avoid these types of things from happening.

However, despite all our efforts to avoid these instances, they still occur. Once the disgruntled feeling of being shocked subsides, one must figure out how to handle the ordeal. 

The process of researching what a vehicle recovery system is, how to file a police report, and how to file a claim with your insurance company could leave you feeling even more flustered than your original discovery of the break-in. However, with a thorough guide, you should be able to maneuver through this process smoothly.

#1 – Make Sure You are Safe and Call the Police

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than three-quarters of a million vehicles were stolen in the United States, so handling cases is nothing new to police officers. This is why your first call should be to 911 after discovering your car has been broken into.

However, before you become distracted by the screen on your phone, you should ensure that you are safe by checking your surroundings. To make matters better, you should go somewhere that is secure and safe. That could be inside your home or a local business if you are not home. 

You can never be entirely sure that the individuals who committed this crime have completely left the scene. They may have merely hidden from your eyesight. The last thing you want to encounter is those who have no problem taking what does not belong to them.

Once the police arrive on the scene to secure the area, then you should be safe to properly inspect your vehicle and check what all has been taken. 

#2 – File a Police Report

You can file a police report after law enforcement has been called out to the scene of the crime. The right to private property is a part of natural law, which is the oldest law in the world, so the police officers will not discourage you from filing a police report. Doing so is encouraged as it helps with filing an insurance claim, and the police may be able to locate your stolen property. 

In some situations, you may have to go down to the police station to file a police report. Regardless of where you file the police report, the following would be necessary to complete one:

  • Your driver’s license
  • Vehicle registration
  • Car insurance ID card
  • Photos of the damage
  • List of stolen items

#3 – Document the Scene

Though you may already have pictures of the vehicle that was broken into, it is best to take more detailed photos of all of the damage done to your car and where the crime occurred. These images are proof that your vehicle was broken into. 

Locating video footage of the crime from local businesses that use security cameras in that area could also help prove your claims. Alternatively, the police may identify the video footage on your behalf, and if you ask, they may provide it to you. 

#4 – Freeze Your Accounts and Order New Cards

After you have finished speaking with the authorities and finished filing the police report, you should freeze any accounts and credit cards that can be accessed from any information left inside your car. Even if the burglars did not take any sensitive paperwork, they could have still seen the information, giving them access to your accounts. 

You should most definitely freeze debit and credit cards if any of them were taken. Immediately contact your bank to inform them of what has happened. You should be able to dispute any transactions that were not made by you. The bank and credit card company you are associated with should be able to send you new credit and debit cards.

Another step that may need to be taken is freezing your credit so individuals cannot open new accounts in your name. Identity theft is another common mishap that can happen with as little information as your birth date, your full name, and your address. Monitor all activity for a few months after the incident, since rebuilding after identity theft is twice as challenging as preventing it.

#5 – File an Insurance Claim

Like one of the steps you take after your home is broken into, you should file a claim with your insurance provider. Depending on the circumstances associated with your car being broken into, you may have to file a claim with multiple insurers.

If your car was physically damaged, then you should file a claim with your auto insurance provider. Your auto policy’s comprehensive coverage should cover the repair costs, but if you do not have comprehensive coverage, you may have to pay for the damage out of pocket.

However, if you had items stolen from inside your vehicle, you should file a claim with your homeowners or renters insurance provider. The process of filing with either of the insurers may differ.

You should reach out to your insurance representative from both providers to help figure out how to handle filing your claims.

#6 – Get Your Car Fixed

Making an effort to get your car fixed should be another priority because cars that are easy to break into are targets for car thieves. Unless you have somewhere to store your car safely, like a garage, you should not leave a car that is damaged out in the open. Damaged and older vehicles tend to attract thieves who are looking for an easy steal. 

If you were able to square things away with your insurer, they should be able to have your car repaired within a couple of weeks. At the very least, they could reimburse you for the costs of repairs to your vehicle. No matter the route you take to have your car fixed, it should be a priority for the sake of your safety. 

How to Prevent Car Break-Ins

Having to file a police report, cancel your credit cards, and go through the process of filing a claim with your insurer is not something that is fun to do. It is daunting and frustrating and could lead to you feeling unsafe in your community.

You cannot always prevent bad things from happening but we all try our best to do so. The steps listed above are ways to deal with having your car broken into, but here are ways to avoid it from happening. 

Here is a list of ways to prevent your car from being broken into in the future:

  • Always activate your car alarm system every time you leave the vehicle.
  • If you do not have an alarm system, you should invest in one if possible.
  • Lock your car doors, even if you are coming right back.
  • Report suspicious activity immediately when noticing it because the presence of a police officer could prevent theft from happening.
  • Do not leave any valuable items or information inside of your car. That includes mail, cell phones, wallets, cameras, guns, or purses.

If you take all of these measurements and still have instances where your car is being broken into, you should consider a new parking location or relocate to a safer neighborhood. 

Having to file multiple claims with your insurer can lead to high rates and qualify as high-risk for insurance. Even worse, having multiple claims could lead to your being dropped as a client.