Driver's Guide

How to Report a Stolen Car

Howdy, Driver? Are you a victim of the circumstance regarding vehicle theft? Let me show you how to report a stolen car in an appropriate way. When you report a stolen car appropriately, it increases the chance of recovering the car. I will also highlight how you can report a stolen vehicle online and without insurance.

how to report a stolen car

When you report a stolen car, the police will label the car as stolen and investigation will commence immediately. The motor vehicle departments will also be informed to keep the crook from registering the stolen car.

Yes, you can report a stolen car online; visit the webpage of the local police in your state, find and click “File a Police Report” to report the stolen car. Nevertheless, I recommend contacting the police in person to file a report.

There is an exception, however, that if you rent your car, you cannot report the car as a stolen car immediately, unless the non-owner refuses to return the car.

Let’s discover how to report a stolen car step by step.

How to Report a Stolen Car

In this section, I will the steps to report and recover a stolen car.

Below are the steps to report a stolen car to the police:

Contact the Police

Before you conclude that your car is stolen, confirm whether the car has been towed. You may ask the people nearby whether they saw a car being towed. If they reply “yes”, then you have to contact the tow yard nearby to confirm that your vehicle has been towed. And if your vehicle has been towed, it is time to fight the tow or pay the fine.

Sometimes, it might take time for your vehicle to appear in the records of impounded cars at the motor vehicle agency.

Another instance to consider is whether the car is a financed car. If the car is financed, confirm your payment history, and if you have defaulted, it is likely that the finance company has repossessed the car.

Contact the finance company and ask whether the car is in their custody. However, if the processes above prove abortive, then the car is stolen.

Prepare the Information of the Car

Regarding how to report a stolen car, to help the police, you must present the details of the car. Below is the information the police will require of your car:

  • VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)
  • Proof of registration
  • Drivers license
  • License plate number

I believe you know the VIN of your vehicle, but if you do not, check up on your insurance statement or look up the information of your VIN online.

List the Items in the Car

It is likely that you have some valuable items in the stolen car. And if the policy of your insurance covers the items, you will be paid for them.

In most cases, the items in a stolen car could be traced to pawn shops, which helps the police to investigate the stolen car.

Remember to make a list of items in the trunk, glove compartment, and center console. If you hide valuable items under the seats and carpets, do not hesitate to list them. Also, list the documents/paperwork you have in the stolen car.

Inform the Police

Call the police immediately and inform them of vehicle theft. I recommend using a non-emergency number to inform the police that your car is stolen.

If you intend to report a stolen car online, visit the website of the local police to report a stolen car. Regarding how to report a stolen car online, however, you will receive late responses from the police. So, I advise against relying on reporting a stolen car online.

Upon calling the police, tell the police that location your car was last seen and describe the car in detail.

Also, inform the police that you have confirmed from the impound and the vehicle agency that your car has not been towed.

If you are financing for the car, inform the police that you have confirmed from the finance company that your car is not being repossessed.

File a Police Report

After informing the police, you have to file a police report. You can file a police report online or over the phone, but I recommend visiting the nearest police department to hasten the case.

If you file a police report online or through a phone call, there will be delays in obtaining a copy of the police report.

The police will issue you a case number, which you will use to collect the police report. Find out where to obtain the report from the officer that issues you the case number.

Follow Up the Case

You may be assigned a detective that will investigate the whereabouts of the stolen car. Endeavor to follow up with the detective, and do not pressurize the officer because they know the job better.

Although it is the responsibility of the police to recover your car, you have a role to play. Inform your friends and several trusted persons of your missing car.

Either you or the people you informed may spot the vehicle somewhere by chance. Do not approach or attempt to drive the vehicle; instead, inform the detective(s) assigned to your case immediately while you keep eyes on the vehicle.

Inform the Insurance Company

If you insured the stolen car, check whether your insurer will cover for the theft of your vehicle. And if the insurance policy does not cover for the stolen car, at least, inform the insurance company that you do not possess the car any longer. So, they might have to terminate the contract.

Review the insurance policy, especially if you do not have comprehensive coverage. The advantage of having comprehensive insurance is that it covers the market value of your vehicle excluding deductible.

If the insurer’s policy states that the company offers replacement value, you will receive a fair value for your stolen car (its current worth) and not the total value. However, if the vehicle is found, the insurance will cover the cost of damages only.

The insurance company will investigate your claims and may treat the case as fraudulent. It is an attempt to verify whether you are trying to defraud the company with false claims of a stolen car.

Welcome every question from the adjustor and do not be intimidated by the questions. I advise you to have copies of your registration papers, title, license number, police report or case number, and any other requirement.

You also need a list of valuable items in the car; the adjustor will request those if it is covered in the insurance policy.

Inform the Finance Company

If the car is a leased or financed car, notify the finance company that your car is stolen. However, if you have comprehensive insurance, the insurance company may notify the finance company that your car is stolen.

Nevertheless, do not wait for the insurer to notify the finance company. Find out from the insurance company whether you have to notify the finance company or they would. Even if the insurance company will inform the finance company, do not hesitate to inform the finance company of the stolen car.

Moreover, the replacement value from your insurance company may be less than what you owe the finance company. And you will be responsible for the payment of the remaining amount of money.

And if your insurance policy does not cover for the cost of the stolen car, you will bear the cost of the stolen car if it is not recovered.

Can You report Your Car as Stolen if You Loaned It Out?

If you loaned your car, you cannot report it as stolen immediately unless the person refuses to return the car. First, notify the person to park the car and inform you of the location to pick it up on a certain date.

If you cannot recover the car, inform the police; you may be instructed further on what to do. The police may give you a signed order to mail to the person, which withdraws the permissions to keep your car.

For the last time, if the person does not return the car, you can report the vehicle as stolen. Also, let the insurance company and the finance company (if the car is financed) know that the car is not in your possession. Inform them of the actions you have taken to recover the car.

Summary of Things You Need to Report a Stolen Car

how to file a stolen vehicle report

The documents you require to report a stolen car include:

  • Police report or case number
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  • Title of car
  • License plate number
  • Proof of insurance
  • Proof of registration
  • General description of the car


Can I Report a Car Stolen if I Know Who Has It?

Technically, No. You cannot report a car stolen if you know who has it; the legal owner must report the stolen car. It has to be the legal or registered owner of the car because the police will require proof to verify that the vehicle belongs to the person.

If you lend a car from someone but it gets stolen, call the registered owner first to inform the police. If the legal owner is not reachable, you may contact the police on their behalf, but you still require their presence for an investigation to commence.

What Happens When I Report My Car Stolen?

When you report your car stolen, the police will confirm whether you are the legal owner, and the investigation will commence.

Can I Report My Stolen Car Online?

Yes, you can report your stolen car online, but you must visit the physical office to file and obtain a written copy of the police report.

Do Cops Look for Stolen Cars?

Yes, cops look for stolen cars. Cops investigate stolen cars and report back to the owner when the car is recovered.

Final Thought

In this article, I disclosed the steps regarding how to report a stolen car to the police, the insurance, and finance companies. If you plan to report a stolen car without insurance, you may face setbacks, regardless, the police will welcome your report. And if the car is not recovered, you will bear the loss. Note that you can also report your car stolen if a family member hides it from you.

To report a stolen car is not as stressful as you might think, it requires patience and you should not pressurize the detective(s) assigned to your case.

Note that only a registered owner of a car can report the car as stolen. If you lose the vehicle to theft as a non-owner, inform the owner to report to the police and file a police report.

When the car is recovered eventually, do these before you drive the car.

Latest posts by Bernard Juchli (see all)

Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli is an experienced racer, mechanic and team owner who trusts Avon Tyres.Bernard is the lead driver and force behind his Big Dog Garage Race Team. He is the General Manager and Chief Mechanic of Jay Leno’s Garage. Bernard and his crew of seven are responsible for all repairs, restoration and fabrication of Jay’s incredible automobile and motorcycle collection.

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