What to do if your car is stolen

Car theft can and does happen, so we've pulled together what you should do if your car is stolen.


Chloe Profile Picture

By Chloe Martell

Updated on Jan 12th, 2021

No one expects their car to be stolen, but unfortunately, this can happen. We’ve pulled together a list of what you should do if you find yourself in this situation, as well as a couple of ways to prevent it.

Double check

You may be thinking “there is no way I could think my car is stolen if it wasn’t” but it does happen. If you’ve gone out for the day and returned to no car, have you just forgotten where you parked? Were you parked somewhere where you shouldn’t be – and your car has been towed away? It sounds silly but it's really important that you check this before going any further, as it will determine who you need to contact.

No – it’s been towed away!

Firstly, you need to find out where your car has been towed too. To do this, you can contact the non-emergency number 101, or go to your local police station. They should have records of your car, and which impound site it may have been taken too. Once you’re there, you will need to pay a release fee to recover your car. You may also need to pay a separate penalty if your car was illegally parked.

Yes – it’s been stolen! Call the police

If you’re certain that your car has been stolen, alert the police straight away. Make sure you know your vehicle’s registration, make, model, and colour. You’ll then be given a crime reference number, which you will need when you inform your insurance company. Did you know, if you have a black box in your car, this can be used to help them track down where your car is? If you have a black box in your vehicle, make sure you let the police know. Don’t be tempted to go looking for the vehicle yourself using the locations reference – you could be putting yourself at risk.

Contact your insurer

After you have notified the police, you should contact your insurance company to start the process of making a claim. Try and remember everything that was in your vehicle when it was taken – as this may be asked when you’re reporting the theft. If your insurance company pays out for the claim of your stolen vehicle, you must tell the DVLA that it has been sold to your insurance company.

What else?

  • If your car has a personalised number plate and has not been recovered, you can apply to have the registration transferred to your replacement vehicle after one year. You cannot claim your personalised number plate back if you have made an insurance claim, and told the DVLA your car was sold to your insurance provider.

How to prevent your car being stolen

Unfortunately, car theft does happen! Let’s face it, you bought your car because you like it – right? Chances are, thieves will like it to, so here are a few precautions you can take to stop them getting away with your car!

Check it is locked – and then, check again!

You can never be too sure. Whether you’re parked at home, or whilst you’re out and about, double check your car is locked (it will normally make a heavy click so you know). There are instances when thieves can block the signal from your key to your car if you press a button to lock it - so you'll think it's locked and actually, it isn't! Once you've pressed the lock button, just try the handle to check it is definitely locked to be on the safe side.

Check where you park

You’ll be surprised as to where car crime takes place. It’s not always in dodgy looking areas! Try your best to park your car somewhere that is well lit (under a street light for example). If you’re parking at home or a friend’s house, try and park as close to the house as physically possible, maybe on a driveway or garage. If you’re parking at a shop, get as close to the entrance and other cars as possible. Car thieves will tend to go for vehicles that are parked out of the way and by themselves.

Hide your things

Let’s face it – if a car thief likes the look of your motor, they’re going to love the fact there’s a phone, purse, and SatNav on display too! If you can, take these things with you! If not, try and make sure they’re out of sight – either in the boot or glove box.


We hope you never have your car stolen, but it’s good to know what to do just in case. By following these tips, you make sure you do what you can to prevent it from happening.

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Chloe Profile Picture

By Chloe Martell

As a new driver, I'm so eager to share my driving journey with you all - from when I was a learner, going through my test and all the aspects of my driving life now, including my love of cars!


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