What to do when your car or truck is stolen
National Geographic Video
All right, so I won't be hitchhiking
First make sure it's really stolen
I was running a little late this morning. Tad and I had to be somewhere by 11 am. We ate breakfast, looking out the window by our front door at our truck, then I went to another part of the house and checked my e-mail, went upstairs and changed for the Seattle weather. When I came outside, it was so strange--like Skip had moved the truck without telling me. And then I realized.
My truck had been stolen.
Since we live in an apartment complex, the first thing I had to do was to make sure that it really had been stolen. So I called the towing company and talked to a very nice woman who said, no, she'd been there all morning and hadn't gotten any calls to tow us. We were parked in our assigned spot, so there wasn't really any reason to tow us.
Second, call the police
So my next step was to call the Seattle Police. They took down our information, and that was pretty much it. The dispatcher sent a patrolman to our apartment. He was a nice guy, asked a few questions and that was it. The thieves got into the vehicle without breaking a window, hotwired it and drove off. Tad even thinks he heard the truck go by--it's a diesel, so it makes a lot of noise. The only thing I couldn't decide was what to do if they found the truck. You get a choice of just getting the phone call, and the truck being left there, or getting it impounded. Even though I figure my truck is headed to eastern Washington with a new set of plates, I opted for impounded.
Third, call the insurance company
So my next call was to the insurance company. All through this, I was pretty upset. I didn't remember phone numbers or addresses. The person on the other end was very nice and helpful, Now I have to wait for the adjuster to contact me.
I also talked to the manager of my apartment complex, mostly to let them know what had happened. They are looking into the company that supplies the crew that maintains the grounds. Sad but true--it's never the same crew twice.
Easy. Cheap. Why wait?
Prevention is your best bet
We did many things right. We kept the windows rolled up. We locked doors. We didn't keep extra keys lying around. But courtesy of the Pennsylvania Auto Theft Authority, there are a few things we could have done. Easily.
- disabled our truck. You can do this any number of places--the ignition, the steering column (making it impossible for thieves to hotwire your vehicle), the engine. This we could have done for free!
- used a gas pedal lock, so they can't use your own gas to drive your car away
- used a steering wheel lock. These won't stop thieves, but they can act as deterrents and slow them down. They come in all shapes and sizes and at all prices. Some are just your basic hook model. Others have audible alarms. Prices range from $19.99 to over $100.00
- used a vehicle tracking system. Instead of writing this hub right now, feeling sad about my truck that I am never going to see again, I could have activated my vehicle tracking system, found out the location of my truck, and this story could have had a happy ending. There are active and passive systems for vehicle tracking. Two brands are Onstar, which is found only on General Motors vehicles, and LoJack, which can be installed either before or after you buy your vehicle. I wish I had used a vehicle tracking system and you can bet your bottom dollar (I'm down to mine) that my next vehicle will have a vehicle tracking system.
What does it all mean?
I don't know what those people were thinking when they stole our truck. I can tell you that for us, this is a pretty bad deal for our family.
- No running: this loss means no Seattle Half Marathon for me this year. I felt so bad that I wasn't able to run today, even though I know I should have done a long run.
- Nowhere to go but up: The bottom line is now we have a new bottom. This theft comes at a tough time in our family history. We need that vehicle.
- It's all right to grieve. Yeah, I know, it's only a truck. But we need our truck. We'll grieve it and let it go.
- Have faith: I have faith that we will get back on our feet somehow. Faith is the key.
- Reach out: Discuss the problem and share it with others. I talked to all our neighbors about this, so they could make their own security arrangments. Yep. Don't make the same mistake that I did. So if anything good can come out of this, it would be that I could help one other person avoid this mess. Now that would make my day.
Auto theft prevention websites
- Pennsylvania Auto Theft Authority
Excellent site with 50 tips for keeping your vehicle safe.