If you’re living in the Western region of the country, you’re in a car theft hotspot. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the 10 cities with the most car thefts are located in this region. While most of the country’s car theft numbers are decreasing, this area saw an increase of 10.6 percent annually.

Since the peak of car thefts in 1991 (1,661,738 stolen), national car theft rates have dropped more than 50 percent to 724,672 thefts. However, no major city, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, is immune to car theft. Knowing what to do in case your car gets stolen is important, as quick action can mean a better likelihood of having your car returned.

If you return to the spot where you parked your car and it’s not there, do the following.

Look Around You


Image via Flickr by Tim Samoff

Before calling the police to the scene to file a report as quickly as possible, make sure there’s no reason your car would’ve been towed or you mistook the row you where you parked. Cars are towed for many reasons. These can include blocking someone in, parking too close to a curb in a no-parking zone, or taking up space near a fire hydrant.

Outstanding tickets and infractions can also lead to your car vanishing. If you haven’t paid your car payment in a while, it could’ve been repossessed. Rule these possibilities out before you call the police.

Call Any Special Locator Services With Your Car

If you have OnStar or another location service, call them next. While the police may do it for you, calling them as you wait for the police is a great way to get multiple people working on the case.

Ask Those Around You

If this occurred in a busy area, ask people if they saw anything. If it happened at a mall or other public spot that might have video surveillance, notify management of the store or parking lot security. The police will likely do this, too.

Call the Insurance Company

While you’re probably still hopeful you’ll get your car back at this point, notifying the insurance company sooner rather than later will get them processing the claim faster. Besides information about your car, think about what property was in it when it was stolen. Remember, most insurance companies won’t process a claim unless the police have been notified, so don’t skip that step.

Notify the Leasing or Financing Company

If you don’t own the car, you’ll want to notify the organization you’re financing it through. Most will need your permission to discuss the incident with the insurance company, so give them it so you can save some administrative headache down the road.

Approximately one car gets stolen every 44 seconds in this country and only 13 percent are recovered. While that statistic sounds overwhelming, following the tips above will help significantly increase the odds of seeing your car again.

Has your car gotten stolen? Have you managed to get it back?