What to Do After a Car Break-In
Disclosure: This is a guest post, I am not the author of this post.
Your worst fear has finally come true. As you walked outside to start your car to get to work, you notice that something is off. There are little pieces of broken glass on the ground, and as you start to look up, you notice the smashed window. Panic begins to set in. Your mind races as you start to remember that you left your wallet on the seat by accident in the hurry to get the kids inside last night. It was an easy target, and someone took advantage of it. However, this is no time to feel sorry for yourself. You need to take care of the problem immediately. Follow these steps to protect yourself and your family from the repercussions of the theft.
Step 1: Get to a Safe Place
If the burglary happened recently, you may still be in danger. If the break-in occurred in a public place, get inside a nearby restaurant or shopping center. If the break-in occurred at home, get inside until you are sure that the area is secure. Your safety is your number one priority.
Step 2: Call the Police
The next thing you will need to do is call the police. Don’t call 9-1-1 unless it is an absolute emergency (or you are unsafe), call local dispatch. They will send out an officer to deal with the problem. Make sure that they file a report. Your insurance company will depend more on the report than on your word. Write down the police report number and case number, as well as the information about the officer who met with you.
Step 3: Take Pictures and Inventory
While you are waiting for the police to arrive, take many pictures of the crime scene. If your phone was stolen in the incident, borrow a friend or neighbor’s, or someone nearby. Take an inventory of what was stolen, although it may be better to wait until the officer arrives to do this so you don’t disrupt the crime scene. Check your glove box, trunk, center console, and even make sure that your garage door remote wasn’t stolen. If it was, you will need to reset your garage door opener to make sure that the perpetrator cannot break into your home via your garage. This is especially crucial if the break-in occurred at home. The police officer probably will need a list of things stolen for their report, so make sure that you are thorough.
Step 4: Call Your Insurance Agency
Find out if break-ins are covered through your insurance policy by giving your insurance provider a call. You may be compensated for just the damage to your car, and maybe the other stolen items like ipods, purses, etc. are covered too. Sometimes, you can have those covered under your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance if they are not covered by your car insurance company. However, if the total damage and amount of goods stolen is less than your deductible, it may not be a good idea to file a claim with your insurance company, as your rates may go up. Whether or not you file a claim, you should still contact them to make sure that you have the best information as to what options you have.
Step 5: Take Care of Identity Theft
If your wallet was stolen in the break-in, or any identifying information such as car insurance information or registration statements, you need to protect yourself from identity theft as soon as possible. Call your credit card company and cancel your cards. Contact your bank and let them know what has happened. It may be necessary to open a new account and transfer your funds. Replace your driver’s license, insurance card, and other documents as soon as possible. The thief will also know your home address, so be vigilant in keeping your home secure. If they stole any spare keys, change your locks. Be prepared to contact a lawyer to help you protect yourself legally against identity theft.
Step 6: Follow Up
A few days after the event, follow up with the detective in charge of your case. If any items are recovered, they will let you know. Find out if there have been any other break-ins in the area, and anything else you can do for help. Most of the time, crimes like break-ins are not at the top priority for the police, so be patient.