My car was stolen from our driveway during a storm earlier this week.
I’ve lived most of my life in dense urban areas. Now that I live in a “safe” neighborhood my car is gone, no public transportation yet this gutting sense of foreignness that happens with violation or when some core belief is irrefutably changed. Everything that was in the car is gone as well: my best rain gear for stormy beach walks, my grandmother’s ring that my recently deceased mom wore to her final breath, a life-time of postage stamps so I could avoid lines when sending my writing to disinterested editors.
I hope what I’ve learned from police, an insurance rep who specializes in stolen vehicles, and others can help you avoid this loss.
~ The incidence of car thefts is highest in a storm (which we had that night) because the storm masks the sounds of breaking glass and car alarms, which are quickly disconnected.
~ Some cars are specifically targeted. When I heard this I thought it was because they’re popular; instead, it’s because they’re easy to steal (for example, a master key can be used for several years of cars that were my make and model, no breakage necessary.) Unfortunately, my car is worth more as parts than as a vehicle, which is disturbing on many levels. While the above link re: specific cars states that car theft is down, that’s not my insurance company’s experience.
~ Car theft, arson and burglary claims have so increased in 2012 for my long-established insurance company that that division has almost tripled the workforce to handle the load, and they still don’t have enough reps.
~ The Club and similar devices hardly delay (moments at best) a professional thief. The officer who took my report said they don’t help.
The insurance representative who took my claim has changed his personal habits due to working in the car theft division. In addition to what I’ve already suggested, he adds:
~ Don’t keep anything in the car including rain coats and other clothes since you’ll lose them when the car is stolen.
~ NEVER leave the keys in the car, especially in the ignition, and most especially with the engine running, not even if you’re standing next to the car. Take your keys whenever you step out of your vehicle. (One of his clients left his key in his ignition while he filled his car with gas. Someone jumped in and drove off. The client not only lost his car, but had terrible injuries since the gas hose whipped him against the payment station when it jerked out from the speeding vehicle.)
~ Keep your car doors locked, even if you’re pumping gas or talking beside the car . A friend’s purse was on the passenger seat as she filled her tank. Someone opened the door, grabbed the purse and ran.
~ Don’t leave a spare key, especially a house key, in the car.
~ Keep registration and insurance papers with you rather than in the car. If the car is stolen, at least they don’t have your address, name, et. al. Home burglary and identity theft often follow after a vehicle is stolen.
~ Never leave a garage opener in the car. Not only is the vehicle in the garage at risk, but also one’s home if the garage is attached. An acquaintance mentioned that her car was stolen from her driveway, and that may have been the total theft if she didn’t keep the garage opener in her car. The thief used the genie to open the garage and Poof! both vehicles were gone when she woke.
~ If you have a tracking device in the vehicle, use the locator ASAP since the tracker can be disabled quickly or tossed.
~ If your car is stolen, call the police and then your insurance company to report it. Then let additional vehicle related services know such as companies who provide paid toll service, the DMV for disability plates/placards and the like so you are not responsible if your vehicle is involved in further crime, and also because these services may be able to help you track the vehicle.
Be safe and please pass this link or information on to everyone you know. Thanks.