Gauteng was victim to over 50% of the total car thefts in South Africa in 2016 with a total of 7 376 instances. With these kinds of statistics you need to be vigilant and if you are one of the unfortunate souls whose car has just been stolen, here’s what you need to do.
Verify that it’s gone
First things first, make sure your car actually has been stolen. If you’re lucky, it may have been towed. So, check for a tow away zone or no parking sign and make a call if you need to. Consider whether you have maybe just misplaced your car and forgotten where you parked before you completely freak out.
If you have verified and cancelled out the options above, then start coming to terms with the fact that your car has indeed been stolen. Look for any “clues” in the spot you parked, such as broken glass on the road, any tools or personal belongings thrown out and scattered.
Reporting to the police
You’ll first want to report it to the police. Give them a call and file a report as soon as you can. The sooner you get hold of them, the more likely they are to try to find it on traffic cameras or link your call with other disturbance claims in the area. Now, phone a friend, or call-up an Uber and get to the nearest police station.
Your report will need to include comprehensive details about your car, including where you parked, your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), vehicle licence and registration, colour, make, model, and any other defining characteristics your car may have (in the form of dents, scratches or personalised stickers). Once you’ve filled out and filed the report, be sure to ask for a copy of it and your case number for insurance purposes.
Then you need to call your insurance and report it to them… prepare for questions.
Reporting to insurance
As soon as you’re done with the police, call your insurance and fill them in on what has happened and that you’re no longer in possession of your vehicle. Why this is important, other than claiming insurance according to your policy, is so that you are no longer held accountable for any damage or harm that may be caused after it’s been stolen. Let them know what personal belongings were in your car, where your keys (and spare keys) are, and the police case number. Then take a deep breath and prepare to answer their questions.
They will be asking you questions to make sure that you’re not the one responsible for the theft of your vehicle. Yes, this is the last thing you want to be dealing with while you’re stressing about your car situation, but they need to cover their bases as well as work out the insurance value for you.
It may take a while for the police to find your car or close the case and possibly longer for your insurance to pay out. Make your own transport arrangements for the time being and have patience. But don’t sit back and leave it completely in their hands, check up on the progress and start your own search efforts by sharing your situation on social media, encouraging people to look out for it and report it. You can also try looking on online sales platforms for any listings that match your car’s description.
But you’re going to need to have patience and use the time after legalities have been dealt with to have your emotional breakdown (it will make you feel a bit better), start preparing for the worst and to think about what to do next.
If your vehicle is found and recovered, that’s amazing. If your vehicle is found but basically just has the car frame left and has otherwise been completely stripped, it’s sad to say, but it’s time to move on. Start looking for pre owned cars in Gauteng that you can either already afford or start saving for (hopefully when you claim from your insurance it helps you in this regard). You also need to prepare your new car to be as theft-proof as possible and prevent this traumatic experience from happening again.
Make sure you install an alarm and tracking system in your new car and be bold enough to slap the company alarm’s sticker on your windows, this is likely to deter potential thieves from trying their luck without being caught.
Never leave any valuables in a clear line of sight in your car, that’s basically asking for a broken window. And get a lock for your steering wheel, that way they can’t drive away with your car even if they tried.
As a general rule of thumb, always be aware of where you park your car and the area that you find yourself in. Park under a streetlight, in popular and busy areas and never forget to lock your doors behind you.