3 steps to follow if your car is stolen

Having your car stolen is one of those things that we all assume happens to other people but never to us. The sad truth is that it can happen to anyone. So what do you do if you find yourself the victim of car theft? We have some car safety tips to help you in this situation.

Take steps to prevent your car from being stolen

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Whether you live in a big city or prefer a small town, it’s important to take steps to make sure your car doesn’t get stolen. Although you may assume that you will have to spend money on expensive anti-theft devices, it only requires a few simple steps.

Erie Insurance recommends that you keep your keys with you at all times. Leaving your keys in the car may seem convenient, but it only makes a thief’s job easier.

Locking your car will also help deter some thieves. They crave easy theft, and an unlocked door is one less hurdle for them to deal with. Parking in well-lit areas and making sure your valuables aren’t easily visible are also inexpensive but simple ways to protect your vehicle.

If you have the money to spend, buying a car alarm or anti-theft system are great ways to deter thieves. Many car manufacturers already include them on their vehicles, but there are aftermarket accessories you can purchase. These include, but are not limited to, fuse cutouts, immobilizers, and wheel locks. A determined car thief can find ways around objects like these, but most will be in a hurry.

So what do you do if you’ve taken all the precautions, but your car still gets stolen? You need to follow three steps, starting with a phone call to your local police.

1. Call the cops

Red and blue flashing police lights | Fernando Salazar/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

This should be the first step to take once you realize your car has been stolen. The more information you give to the police, the better your chances of recovering your vehicle. There is no guarantee on this, unfortunately.

Some of the things you’ll need to know include make and model, color, identifying features like those beloved bumper stickers, and VIN. They may also ask you about your insurance information, which leads to the next step you’ll take.

2. Call your insurance agent

Calling an insurance agent is never fun, and this call will be no different. However, your agent will be your greatest ally.

They will want to know who the lender is for your vehicle, if it has not been paid off and if you have a spare set of keys. They will also need to know where the car was stolen and will require a copy of the police report.

Answer the questions in as much detail as possible with help. Whether you collect your car or not, your agent will make sure the vehicle is paid for.

3. Call your lender

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Calling the cops and your insurance agent are probably at the top of your list, but many people may not consider their lender. However, this is an essential step that you need to do as soon as possible.

Even if your car has been stolen, this does not mean that you are immediately authorized to make payments. Whether it’s a bank, credit union, or even the dealership, they’ll always expect you to pay for the car.

Your insurance company will pay the lender directly, but you must let them know it was stolen. This way they know they are expecting payment from the insurance company instead of you.

RELATED: What is a stolen vehicle recovery system and does it actually work?

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