Then one morning, as I was walking the dogs, JR pulled me back towards the car as if she sensed something. I thought nothing of it. Fast forward an hour later, when the SO came out with me to walk the dogs again, he did his routine glance at our car as we passed by. Something didn't look right. He was right. Our lock had been completely jimmied out, to bits on the ground. The car unlocked and everything ransacked through. Our manual and yes, even our tire pressure gauge, stolen. They left the quarters though.
|Our poor lock. They actually broke the lock off so it never triggered the alarm system.|
Our car truly felt violated and dirty and it felt weird even to sit in it. I know it sounds weird but the car is the SO's baby and I felt his pain and frustration so much more than the shock and anger I already felt. We never kept any valuables in the car, luckily but what was their motive? Why our car out of all the cars in the lot? The whole reason we got stick was because it's harder to steal. Yet, at the same time, we were relieved that they were at least, unable to steal the car.
What do you do though, when your car gets stolen or at minimum, broken into? To my dismay, there really aren't that many guides out there and it was confusing for us, especially in our state of mind. So, while I hope you never need to use this, here's my guide to what to do when your car is broken into.
What to do when your car gets broken into:
1) Call the cops. The number you are supposed to call is 911. Believe it or not, I was shocked too. I was a bit hesitant calling since it wasn't an emergency but I had called the non-emergency number in NYC prior to that and they said to call 911 because a police officer had to come out to take a report. You may want to check locally. While you're waiting for the cops to come, check your car and see what's missing, make a list because the officers will ask. Don't worry about touching or messing up stuff more in the car because guess what the officers said to us, "We don't CSI that sh*t." Yes, that is a direct quote from their mouths. You probably have time for tip #2 while you're waiting as well.
When they arrive:
-Report the situation, damage, etc. You'll need your license, registration and insurance information available if possible.
-Tell them what's missing.
-If your registration and insurance are missing, make sure they actually fill out a missing items form or file it on their police report so that you can get a form MV-78B filled out by the officers to take to your local DMV to get a replacement registration. Our mistake, we never knew that and despite the fact that we told them our registration and insurance was stolen along with the car manual, they never documented it on the report. This resulted in hours wasted and several days of going back and forth to the precinct to get this fixed.
Honestly, I was very disappointed at the lack of help we received from the ones we're supposed to trust and rely on. Everyone at the precinct couldn't be bothered to help. We heard one excuse after another how it wasn't one clerk's job to enter in the report information since it was no longer her job, come back later...etc...absolutely 0 empathy. Their concern lie in whether they had to do more work or not. It was a "favor" to us that they were actually doing their jobs and trust me, they made sure we knew that.
2) Call your insurance company, let them know your car was broken into. Find out your deductible and see whether the damage done to your car is worth making the claim and paying that deductible. In our case, we had a $500 deductible to pay but our car door and lock were totalled so we were 100% sure that the damage done would be more than $500. If your damage is only say $250, then it makes no sense to file a claim and pay a $500 deductible, right? Take lots of pictures of any damages just in case you need proof of the damage incurred for the insurance company.
Your local insurance guy may not be so helpful as we found out. The only way we got proper help was by calling the main insurance company.
Since our lock was broken, there was no way we could leave it out in the lot any longer as the car door wouldn't shut or lock. Who knew if the thieves would come back again and take the whole car this time? So, we drove to the shop where we wanted the car fixed. Luckily, our insurance company allows our choice of auto shop. They also provide car rental service coverage of up to $30 per day for 30 days. The unfortunate thing though is that stolen items were not covered by the insurance company.
3) Secure your personal information and home. Has your personal information been compromised? Was your wallet or purse stolen? To prevent identity theft, cancel credit cards, contact your bank, and replace your credit cards, driver's license, and so on if those were stolen. There are free credit check reports available and you should use them. You can also put in place a free 90 day fraud alert. Our registration and insurance were stolen so the thieves had all of the information with our names and address. We lived in fear and suspicion for the next month and still do that they would come back and target our home.
4) Report your vehicle's stolen items to your homeowners or renters insurance if coverage applies and the contents' value is more than the deductible.
5) Take steps to prevent this from happening again. Even before this experience, I knew not to leave valuables in the car, but even more so after this experience. Some have said a 4 pronged claw to lock the steering wheel may deter thieves because it takes more time to take those apart. Keep your license and registration separate from the car manual and not in the glove compartment. I've even considered planting a camera in the car and GPS vehicle tracking for the worst case scenario, where the car actually gets stolen.
It really sucks to be in a situation like this and I hope you never are. If the time comes though, I hope these tips will at least help ease the stress and frustration. Has this happened to you before? What did you do?
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