When your car is stolen, it is important that you report it to the police as soon as possible. But how do you file a report that your car has been stolen? We've done the research, and here's what you need to know:
If someone is in the act of stealing your car now, call 9-1-1 immediately.
To report a stolen vehicle, follow these steps:
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- Verify that the vehicle wasn't towed
- Gather information about the vehicle
- Prepare documentation to show you are the owner
- File a report at a police station or on a non-emergency line if the local police allow it
In this article, we'll cover each step in more detail. We'll also provide more information on the specifics for reporting a stolen car in some of the most populous parts of the US. Keep reading to learn what you need to do.
What do I need to do to report my car is stolen?
While specifics sometimes vary from city to city, we'll cover the primary steps that are consistent across the US.
These steps are for reporting a stolen car after the fact. If someone is stealing your car right now, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Check if your vehicle was towed
Remember that just because your vehicle is missing, it might not have been stolen. Check for any no-parking signs or other indications that your car may have been towed.
You can also check by contacting the agency in charge of towing in the area. This varies depending on the city, but the local police station should be able to provide you with the information. Either check in person or call their non-emergency number.
Gather information about your vehicle
Once you've verified that no one towed your vehicle, you'll need to gather information for your police report.
The specific information the local police require sometimes varies, but it's always good to know:
- The license plate number
- The VIN
- The make, model, and year of your vehicle
- The color
- Any identifying marks
- Stickers or decals
- Damage from accidents
- Custom wheels
- The time, date, and location you last saw the vehicle
In many locations, you will also need to provide proof that you are the owner of the vehicle with a title or other documents, such as DMV records or a bill of sale.
Contact the local police
Once you have your information and documentation ready, you can file a report in person at the police station where the crime happened.
In some locations, you can also file a report by calling the station's non-emergency number.
How to Report a Stolen Car in Texas
Depending on where your vehicle was stolen, you will most often file a police report through the local police department.
We will cover how to report a stolen car in Texas's largest cities. For other cities, you can consult Texas's police directory for non-emergency numbers.
How to report a stolen car in Houston
First, to check if your car has been towed, call the Houston Records Division Tow Line: (713) 308-8580
Once you've established that your car was not towed, you can file a police report by calling: (713) 884-3131
To add more information after filing an initial report, have your case number prepared and call: (713) 308-8550
How to report a stolen car in San Antonio
San Antonio uses a private entity for towing, so you can find if your vehicle has been towed on their website.
Once you've verified that your vehicle was not towed, you can file a report with San Antonio's Auto Theft Division: (210) 207-7345
How to report a stolen car in Dallas
To check if your car was towed in Dallas, you will need to call the Auto Pound: (214) 670-5116
The Dallas Police Department allows stolen vehicle reports to be made through 9-1-1 or in person, but only by the last person in legal possession of the vehicle.
To update an auto theft report you've already filed with new information, you can contact the Auto Theft Unit: (214) 671-3535
How to Report a Stolen Car in Florida
We'll look at how to check if your vehicle has been towed and how to report it if stolen in Miami and Tampa.
For other parts of Florida, contact the local police, whose numbers you can find in Florida's Police Department directory.
To find out if your car was towed in Miami, you can check with AutoReturn.
You can file a report that your vehicle was stolen by calling the Miami-Dade police department at: (305) 476-5423
You can also file a police report online at MiamiDade.gov.
In the case of Tampa, you can contact the non-emergency police line to check if your car has been towed as well as to report your vehicle as stolen.
Their number is: (813) 231-6130
How to Report a Stolen Car in New York
In most counties in New York, you should contact the local police station's non-emergency number to ascertain whether your vehicle has been towed and to file a report if it has been stolen.
You can find the non-emergency numbers for the various counties in New York here.
New York City
To check if your vehicle was towed in New York, you can use their online tool for vehicles towed by the NYPD. You can also call 3-1-1.
If your car is stolen in New York, you can report it by going to a police station or calling 9-1-1.
How to Report a Stolen Car in California
We'll look at what to do if you suspect your car has been stolen in Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose.
For other parts of California, contact the local police department. You can find local police department numbers on California's Law Enforcement site.
You can use the Los Angeles Police Garages' online tool to check if your vehicle was towed in Los Angeles.
If you need to report your vehicle as stolen, you can call: (877) 275-5273
Like many cities, San Diego uses AutoReturn to allow drivers to locate towed vehicles. Check with the AutoReturn San Diego site first to find out if your vehicle was towed.
To report a stolen vehicle, go to a police station or call: (619) 531-2000
You can find out if your vehicle has been towed in San Jose by calling: (408) 277-4263
If your vehicle was not towed, you can report it stolen by going to a police station or by calling the non-emergency number to have a police officer meet you in person. That number is: (408) 277-8900
How to Report a Stolen Car in Pennsylvania
We'll cover what to do if your car was stolen in Philadelphia. For other locations in Pennsylvania, call the local police station's non-emergency line.
You can find the number for your local police station in Pennsylvania's station directory online.
First, check if your car was towed by calling: 888-591-3636
To report your vehicle stolen, you can go to your police headquarters or dial 9-1-1.
How to report a stolen car online?
More and more police departments are allowing citizens to file reports online. However, reporting a stolen car online is still uncommon.
There are two main reasons for this. The first is that many police departments still don't have a system for online reporting. Instead, you will need to call their non-emergency number or go in person.
The second reason is that even departments that do have online reporting typically use it only for minor crimes.
In many cases, auto theft is explicitly excluded from the reports they allow to be filed online. In other cases, theft is only allowed to be reported up to a certain monetary value.
Reporting a Stolen Car when Borrowed
Not all vehicle theft happens anonymously. If you lend your car to someone and they refuse to return it, the vehicle is effectively stolen.
If this happens to you, you will want to gather some evidence before going to the police. First, you will need a way to prove that the vehicle is yours. The title or DMV records should be able to prove this.
Once you have proof that you own the vehicle, police may also request evidence that the borrower is refusing to return it. Save any text message or email communications that provide evidence.
Contact the police with your proof of ownership and evidence that the borrower is refusing to return the vehicle. Either go in person or contact the non-emergency line.
In most cases, the police will be happy to help in this situation. However, they might not get involved if less than a day or two has passed since the initial borrowing.
Continue to save any texts and emails from the borrower during this time.
You can learn more about this topic in our article:
What are the chances of getting a stolen car back?
According to the FBI's crime statistics from 2019, 56% of stolen vehicles are recovered.
While this number may seem low, it is the highest rate of theft recovery and almost double the average of 29%.
Car theft is a serious offense that you should report to the police as soon as possible. Remember to contact 9-1-1 if a theft is in progress. When reporting a stolen car after the fact, follow the local police department's guidelines to file the report.
Now you know what to do when you believe someone has stolen your car. While we hope you never need this information, you'll be prepared if you do.