You went to a mall to go shopping. You park your car and you spend a couple of hours at the mall. But imagine the horror if you go back to your car and discover that it has been broken into. Not only that, your valuables and personal belongings are missing!
Even if you take precautions, theft at public places can still happen. If it happens to you, don’t panic, and follow these steps.
File a police report
The first thing to do is calling the police. Depending on the location and the severity of the incident, the reporting process and response may differ somewhat. Some police departments may do not have enough resources to investigate every car break-ins. However, a police report is important especially if you want to file an insurance claim as the insurance company will ask for it. Moreover, reporting the break-in to the police also can help law enforcement to identify a crime pattern by linking the crimes together.
It may also be helpful to ask the security of the mall or the facility where you are in. Ask them if they can review the security cameras near your car. They may have captured an image of the thief.
Document the scene
Do not move the car and start documenting the details of the damage from the outside before you go in. Make a list and take pictures of any of the damage such as a broken window, picked door’s lock, and any other visibly damaged.
Make a list of your missing items
Keep an eye out for what may have been stolen from the car. Not only your valuables, but also parts of the vehicle such as license plates, tires, rims, and any other auto parts. It will be useful when you report the accident to police. If your license plate is stolen, report it immediately so you won’t be charged if the perpetrator uses your license plate for speeding or other traffic violation.
Look for a witness
Find out if there are any people around the area who may have seen somebody acting suspiciously. You can also look if there is any security camera in the area.
Decide if you want to file a claim with your insurance
The decision whether to file an insurance claim or not is most likely depend on to what extent the damages are and what has been stolen during the break-in. If the damage is significant enough that make you can’t drive it away, then you should call your insurance and ask for a tow truck arrangements.
Also, estimate the amount of the money that you might lose because of the damage. If it significantly exceeds your deductible, an insurance claim may be something that you need. However, if the damage is relatively minor, you may consider organizing your own repair because claiming to the insurance company may be more expensive as they might add unnecessary complications.
Freeze your bank account and cancel your credit card, if necessary.
If your debit or credit cards were taken, call your bank or the card issuers immediately to cancel and block access to your account. You may also want to get replacement cards.
Report a fraud alert on your account, if necessary.
One of the dangers of a car break-in is, if the thief stole your belongings with your identity in it, because it may lead to identity theft. If any of the missing items have your identification such as address, social security number or birth date, you should place a fraud alert on your credit to avoid the perpetrator from using your identity.
Protect your car from future break-ins
After dealing with such unfortunate incident, the last thing you want is another break-in. As such, you need to take action to prevent your car so it won’t get broken into again. You may want to consider to invest in some anti-theft devices for your car or take more precaution while parking your car to keep it safe.
Car break-in is undoubtedly a painful and dreadful occurrence. However, hopefully, those steps above are helpful to make the situation better and able to minimize the risks of future problems.