Theft of a vehicle from your garage or showroom can mean the loss of tens of thousands of dollars, and the situation needs to be handled carefully. The following steps need to be taken.
Survey the area
What has been taken or damaged? Besides the stolen vehicle, if the keys of any others have been taken, these vehicles should be secured and/or immobilized immediately. Remember that the police may want to treat the location of the theft as a crime scene, so don’t disturb any potential evidence before they arrive.
Save any video surveillance footage footage of the scene. The police may need it, or you may recognize the thief as someone who came in to case the premises under the pretext of being a customer. Access the computer records of any tracking device the vehicle may have had to assist you or the police in recovering it.
Call the police
Have a description of the car ready, along with its license number and VIN. If the car was being repaired or serviced, did it have some fault that would make it dangerous to drive? If so, law enforcement needs to be informed of that immediately. Have a copy of the surveillance footage ready for them in case they wish to keep it. The amount of attention the police can give to vehicle theft varies widely by region.
Notify your insurance company
Your traders insurance company will need to know the value of the vehicle, its license number and VIN, and who owns it. Particular care needs to be taken to have all vehicles in the garage covered by your policy, and to implement any security precautions that are a precondition of coverage. Failure to comply with security requirements may invalidate your policy and result in the loss of compensation for theft.
Notify the Internet
You can post details of the theft on various Web forums where people share information about cars. The online community may be able to tip you off about someone trying to resell your vehicle (particularly if it’s not a common model). Anyone demanding financial reward for revealing the location of your car should be reported to police.
The best way of dealing with a theft is doing your best to ensure it never happens or keeping the loss to a minimum. There are a few easy precautions to take. Besides not leaving any keys or documents on the premises, don’t leave any paperwork lying around displaying your home address (“hey burglar, here’s where you’ll find all the keys and pink slips”).
We hope you never find yourself in the above situation. But if it happens, sensible insurance and security precautions will mean it doesn’t put you out of business.