There are few things quite as shocking as having a vehicle break-in. Not only may you have been robbed of the contents, but there is also the uncomfortable feeling of having your personal space invaded. Today, we’re walking through what happens and what to do after an auto break-in.
Sometimes the driver will notice there has been a break-in because a window has been broken, for example. Other times, the driver won’t see until he’s actually in the vehicle and discovers something missing or out of place.
The most important thing after a vehicle break-in is to stay safe. If you believe you know the suspect or the suspect is nearby, do not engage the person. Get away and call the police. In the Phoenix Valley area, each city has their police department, which means you’ll need to know where you are so you’ll know who to call, which can get a little bit tricky. Regardless of who you call, they will refer you to the correct precinct.
The police will file a report. The report will have a case number, a valuable reference tool not only for speaking with the officer in charge of the case later, but also to give to your insurance company should you file a claim. Make sure you have the name, badge number and contact number of the police involved.
Missing items can be a gateway
One would think that electronic items such as cell phones, laptops, and other electronics would be the most important things to consider after a theft. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. The most critical items to consider are gateway tools. These are items which allow the thief access, or a gateway, into other thefts. Examples of these are a garage door opener, credit card, checkbook, driver’s license (or any other identification), automobile registration, or spare house or car keys. Any of these can be used as a tool to steal other items from you. So, it’s essential that these are listed, and the potential for theft due to the utilization of these items averted promptly.
Other missing items
The police will want a careful accounting of stolen items, vehicle damage, etc. Descriptions, serial numbers, and photographs of any missing articles can prove helpful. It’s possible that the thieves looked over the items in your glove box and trunk, so don’t fail to check those places for missing items.
If there was vehicle damage, you might need a locksmith, auto glass company, tow truck, or body shop to get involved. When you contact your insurance company, understand that this may make increase your insurance rates. Speak to your agent to find out if filing a claim would be a cost-effective measure. In some cases, it’s better to pay out of pocket. Makes sure you understand who is going to pay for what before making decisions.
Sometimes the police will contact you if stolen items will be recovered. Depending on whether or not they were covered and claimed on your insurance policy, and if they were damaged, you might need to show them to your insurance company agent. Contact them for instructions.
A vehicle break-in can be an emotional experience, but it can also be a learning tool. Keeping documentation and photographs of valuables in your car--not in the car, of course--but audio systems, GPS, etc., can aid in the recovery of these items. Learning a leave-and-lock algorithm when you exit your vehicle can be helpful as it will become instinctive to lock the car.
A break-in can also serve as a reminder to not leave valuables in your vehicle. But even if the items in your car weren’t expensive, it’s a good idea to file a police report anyway. People, even thieves, are creatures of habit and will repeat behaviors within close proximity. Each report serves as a tool the police can use to track automobile break-ins, and if the culprit does get caught, it’s another charge the police can file against them.
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