How to Find a Stolen Car: 8 Steps You Can Take

Data shows that, in the US, a car is stolen every 44 seconds. Though your first move after discovering that your car has been stolen should be to call the police, you should not stop there. In fact, there are numerous steps you can take in order to have an active role in the search and help bring your car back safely.

This article will deal with the most important ones. Read on!

Searchin for a stolen car.

1. Confirm Your Car Has Indeed Been Stolen

Before you go into full-on panic mode about your car being missing, you need to confirm that it had actually been stolen. For example, it could have been towed if you had parked in a “No Parking” zone. In such a case, you should check with local towing companies and ask about your car.

However, if you parked in a regular parking spot and there is no reason for anyone to tow your car, your next step should be to call the police. They will ask you for the following information, so make sure you have it ready:

  • The year, manufacturer, and model of your car
  • Car color
  • License plate number
  • Vehicle identification number (call your insurer to ask if you don’t know it)

Now that the police can launch an official investigation, it is time to turn to what you can do to speed up the process and find your car.

2. Is Searching for Your Car Even Worth It?

Many people believe that looking for your stolen car is a waste of time and that you won’t find it no matter how hard you look. However, that is not the case. In fact, the chances of you finding your vehicle are pretty high, especially in bigger cities.

For example, around 75% of stolen cars are recovered in Washington, which is a number higher than for any other stolen item. Thus, you should be stubborn, put in the work, and give your all to find your car. More often than not, that is enough.

3. Tracking Your Car Via GPS

In this day and age, most cars have a GPS installed. Apart from helping you navigate unknown territories and drive safely, these devices can also come in handy to track a stolen vehicle.

Whichever system you have, be it OnStar, LoJack, or anything else, the company can help track down your car. In some instances, they might even be able to shut your car down and prevent it from working until the police or you can reach it. Of course, that is only the case with newer car models.

But regardless of the model, the GPS should give you the precise location of your car, which you can then forward to the police. However, it is important to mention that this way of finding your car can only work if the thief does not disable the GPS after stealing your vehicle.

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4. Using Your Car’s VIN to Find It

Your vehicle’s identification number (VIN) is a unique set of numbers that the car industry uses to identify distinct motor vehicles. So, each car in the world has a different code, and they get it during the manufacturing process. What’s more, every single vehicle in the world, from scooters to trucks, has a number like that.

If you do not know what your car’s VIN is, don’t panic. You can just check the paperwork you signed when you bought it or contact your insurance company and ask them. In fact, letting your insurer know about your missing car is a vital step you shouldn’t miss.

After you have your number, it is time to track down your car. Here is how you can do it:

  • Go to a website called AutoCheck, and purchase a vehicle history report. That will cost somewhere between $30 and $40. Once you buy that, you will need to type in your car’s VIN.
  • On your screen, you will see a chronological list of all the places where your car was registered, serviced, and titled. Scroll all the way down, and take a look at the latest location listed. That should be your car’s current location. But even if it isn’t, it should help you narrow down the search and help you track your car faster.

You can always go and search for your car yourself. However, it might be smarter to contact the police and tell them what you have found instead. You can never know if the thief might be violent, so letting the pros handle the chase is a safer choice in cases like that.

5. Finding Your Car On Online Shops

More often than not, people steal cars so that they can sell them or their parts. These sales are often conducted on the internet, where the buyer has no idea that they are getting a stolen car and the thief is able to gain some quick money. Craigslist checker is a good place to start your search.

If you see your car or any of its parts that you can recognize listed for sale, giving the seller’s contact info to the police might help find them. Alternatively, you can play along and pretend that you want to buy the car or parts and meet with the seller. Most of the time, the seller agrees to meet, allowing you to catch them in the act.

Again, it is best not to meet with the seller by yourself, as that could be dangerous for your safety. So, you should either let the police handle it on their own or at least go meet with the seller accompanied by police for protection. They will guarantee your safety, and both you and the car will be fine after the interaction.

6. Tracking Your Car With the Help of Your License Plate Number

Your license plate number can also be of great help if your car has been stolen. Namely, you can cross-reference your license plate number with street cams and other surveillance videos in the city. That can help you find out where the thief took your car. However, the sad thing is that you don’t have access to footage like that.

Luckily, there is someone who does: the police. Since they are notorious for letting cases go cold because looking at hours of videos takes too much work, you will need to be pushy to get them to look into it. Stay respectful, but be firm. Tell them about your rights and what they need to do to abide by the law that they enforce. Doing so will most likely get them to take your case seriously and look into this if everything else fails.

7. Get Cab Drivers to Help You Find Your Car

Getting in touch with local cab companies when your car goes missing is an excellent idea. Oftentimes, these companies hire hundreds of drivers, and they outnumber the police and circulate in all parts of town.

Give the cab companies all the necessary info about your car. That includes where you last saw it and how long ago it went missing. Chances are that someone has seen it. If not, they will all keep their eyes open for it from then on. That will make it hard for the thief to go through town unnoticed.

Offering a reward for anyone who finds your car or gives you any useful tips is also a great idea. It doesn’t need to be anything huge, but it has to be a powerful incentive to the cab drivers. The more people join in the search, the bigger the chances are of you finding your car.

8. Find Your Car by Checking the City’s Transportation Website

Sometimes, the thief can drive your car for a little while and then leave it on the side of the road, often parked incorrectly. That could result in a parking ticket, which you can use to track down your car easily.

First off, you need to log into the City’s Transportation website. A quick look around will allow you to find the license plate search bar. Click on it, and type in your license plate number. If your car is in the database, every parking violation you have ever had will pop up on the screen.

Look for the latest one, and immediately forward it to the police. Chances are that your car is still there, and they will be able to recover it for you without any trouble.

Final Thoughts

As you have read, there are quite a few things you can do to find your car if someone has stolen it. After notifying the police, you can track your car through your GPS, VIN, license plate number, parking tickets and look for it in online car shops. Some of these options will work better than others, which is why you need to be aware of all of them and assess your situation accordingly.

Remember to always work with the police and to stay safe and careful at all times. Good luck!




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