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If your car has been broken into, here are some suggestions.
- Immediately
- Have Insurance? Next Steps
- No Insurance? Next Steps
- Additional Information

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Immediately

  1. Be safe, be smart.
  2. Get to a safe place. Call the police.
  3. They will ask for a description of what is missing from your car. (Remember your trunk, glove compartment, anywhere else you kept items.)
  4. Go here for a printable form to refer to when talking to the police; you can use it as a checklist for figuring out what is missing. Keep a copy for yourself — it may help you in the replacement process of the stolen items.

  5. The police will give you a case number.
    • Keep this with you at all times.
    • Make a copy of the case number, as well as the officer’s contact info, below, for home and work in case you need to reference it.
  6. Get the officer's name(s) and badge number(s) as well as a phone number in case you have questions or remember other items in your car.
    • Officer #1 Name
    • Badge Number
    • Phone Number
    • Officer #2 Name
    • Badge Number
    • Phone Number

WHN TIP: Wallet / Purse Theft

Start here for handling purse/wallet theft.

Have Insurance? Next Steps

  1. Insured for car break-in? Call your insurance agent.
  2. Have your car insurance policy number.
  3. Have the police case number.
  4. Explain what happened (know that this may increase your rates).
  5. Go through the list of stolen items — this is the same list you gave the police — some may be covered, depending on your coverage and riders. li>
  6. If your policy includes coverage for a rental car, coordinate this with your agent. If your policy does not cover this, consider another mode of transportation.

    WHN TIP: Public Transit

    If there is a public transit system nearyou, call their customer service line. Operators are trained to answer questions.

  7. Ask your agent:
    • What is covered if the car was damaged?
    • What is the timeline for compensation?
    • How will this affect insurance rates? When will this change kick in?
    • What is covered if the contents are recovered but are damaged?
    • What is covered if the contents are never recovered?
    • Are there items that were stolen that aren’t covered under the insurance policy? Check your homeowner’s policy to learn if there is other coverage.
    • Will this affect homeowner's rates? When will this change kick in?

    WHN TIP: Timelines

    While it varies by provider, insurance companies usually begin the claim process 7–15 days after the theft.

  8. After a few days, contact the police to check on the status of your case. Have your case number ready.
    • Ask to speak with the detective who is assigned to your case.
    • Introduce yourself, state your case number and when the theft took place.
    • Ask the detective about your case. Is it open or closed?
    • If it's open, ask if there are any suspects.
    • Have there been more car break-ins in the neighborhood?
    • Is there is anything else you can provide to help?
    • Request a copy of the police report for your records.
    • The police do their best to follow up on the theft. However, it may not be possible to track down stolen goods. Be patient.

Items are Recovered

  1. If some or all of your items are recovered, the police will contact you. You will need to identify your belongings. Ask what identification to bring.
    • If your ID was stolen, ask what alternative identification you can use.
  2. Contact your insurance agent with the news.
  3. If your items are damaged, they must be assessed by your insurance company before you can repair/replace them.

WHN TIP: Repairs

Do not go ahead with car or content repair until you know how much money you are getting from the insurance agency.

Items Not Recovered?

  1. After two weeks, be sure your agent is processing the paperwork so you can begin replacing items that are insured.
  2. The amount of money you get from your insurance agency depends on your coverage.

Not Insured? Next Steps

  1. Keep the police case number with you at all times.
  2. Consider another mode of transportation if your car has been rendered inoperable due to the break-in.
  3. WHN TIP: Public Transit

    If there is public transit in your area, call their customer service. Operators are trained to answer questions.

  4. If your car is damaged, drive or tow it to your garage for a check-up and/or repair estimate.
    • Decide whether repairs are worth it - consult the Kelley Blue Book for an estimate of your car’s value.
  5. A few days after the theft, contact the police to check on your case. Be sure to have your case number ready.
    • Ask to speak with the detective who is assigned to your case.
    • Introduce yourself, state your case number and when the theft took place.
    • Ask the detective about the status of your case. Is it open or closed?
    • Ask if there are any possible suspects.
    • Have been any more car break-ins in your neighborhood?
    • Is anything else that you can provide to help?
    • Request a copy of the police report for your records.
    • Remember, the police do their best to follow up on the theft. However, it may not be possible to track down your stolen goods. Be patient.

Items Are Recovered

  1. The police will contact you. You will go to the police station and identify your belongings; ask what identification to bring with.
    • If your ID was stolen, ask the officer what alternative identification you can use.

Items Not Recovered

  1. After several days with no word, begin replacing contents.
  2. Contact the police and ask them to keep you informed of any developments.


Additional Information

Remember ...

The information provided here is not meant to be a substitute for professional legal advice. These tips are from first responders, lawyers, insurance agents and people who have shared real-life advice; always check with a lawyer or appropriate professional you trust before making any legal decisions.

Thank you ...

A special thank you to the industry professionals, lawyers, insurance agents, first responders and people who gave us their time, insight and real-life advice. And, thanks to the sites that we have in our Links section.


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Car Break-In

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