How Can I Track My Stolen Car? [Inc. 5 Actionable Ways]

Having your car stolen is one of the worst experiences a driver can endure. It's a terrible nuisance that can bring a great deal of stress into your life. People who find themselves in this situation often wonder how they can track their stolen vehicle. We did some research and found some practical ways to track your missing property.

Using these following tracking methods will increase the likelihood of finding your stolen vehicle. These six options will help make sure your car ends up back in the right hands: 

  • Use a GPS device to locate your stolen car
  • Review nearby security footage
  • Get in touch with every cab company
  • Look through your city's transportation website
  • Use your car's VIN to find your vehicle 

But there's a bit more explaining needed to get the necessary information required for tracking your stolen vehicle. Our following discussion will dive deeper into this topic to ensure that you know how to proceed during this situation. We'll also answer some other questions that might be on the mind of someone looking to track their stolen vehicle.

Man in hooded jacket using phillips screw to insert in keyhole to start a stolen car

First: Contact The Police

The first and most vital option is contacting your local police department. It's the first thing anyone who has had their car stolen should do. It becomes increasingly more important when your vehicle was stolen with a child, baby, or pet inside it.

Once you call the police, the next step is filing a police report. You must make sure to provide enough vital information about your stolen car, including:

  • The VIN
  • License plate number
  • Brand, color, and model of your car
  • Last known location
  • Your ID
  • Tracking devices on the vehicle, such as OnStar or LoJack

You should get a copy of the report, as well. This report will be needed for the insurance claim. But regardless, try to provide as many details as possible. These details will go a long way in helping the police recover your car.

5 Ways To Track A Stolen Vehicle

auto thief black balaclava trying break

Each of these methods has been proven to be effective when it comes to locating a missing vehicle. You can try using one or all of them to ensure your car gets recovered from the thief. In any case, this section will go a long way toward making the process much more manageable.

1.  Use GPS Device To Locate Your Stolen Car

Another way to track your vehicle is through an installed GPS like LoJack or OnStar. If your car has one of these systems, the manufacturer can use it to help determine the car's location. These companies can even shut it down to ensure no more damage occurs before the police arrive.

Honestly, it doesn't matter where your car got stolen with one of these GPS systems installed. These devices will make tracking the vehicle a short and easy process.

2. Review Nearby Security Footage

Checking nearby security footage is one of the first things worth doing when a vehicle gets stolen. This footage can go a long way in determining what happened and who might have taken your car. After all, your home and garage's security recordings could provide clear images of the thief and their escape route.

If the car didn't get stolen from your home, try looking for security cameras around the location and asking any security personnel if you can view them. Places like parking garages should have various cameras throughout the site. Getting permission to view the footage shouldn't be a problem.

3. Get In Touch With Every Cab Company

Many people have found cab drivers to useful resources when tracking their missing vehicles. It would be a good idea to contact every cab company around your car's last known location. You can then ask for their help locating your car or truck.

This method ends up being an effective one because there are a lot more taxi drivers than police officers. Using them will increase the odds of recovering your missing car significantly. It would be wise to offer a reward, such as $100, to the taxi driver who locates the vehicle. It'll give them some incentive to join your search party and increase the chances that the situation will have a positive outcome.

young mans car stolen cant find

4. Look Through Your City's Transportation Website

Some drivers have tracked down their stolen vehicles online by checking for parking violations. You see, some thieves only need the car for a quick getaway and will abandon it quickly. That means the vehicle could get ticketed and put into the parking violation database, which is available online. Accessing this database is a simple four-step process:

  1. Log into your city's transportation site
  2. Use your vehicle's license plate to check whether or not it's in the database
  3. Note the area where the parking violation took place
  4. Contact your local police. They will look for the missing car and return it when/if it's found

5. Use Your Car's VIN To Find Your Vehicle

You can locate a stolen car using its VIN. If you're confused about what a VIN is, it's a distinct code used by the vehicle industry to identify motor vehicles. The process of using these numbers to track a car consists of three steps:

  1. Go to AutoCheck and buy a vehicle history report. These reports will usually cost between $30 and $40.
  2. Enter the car's VIN and your credit card details on the vehicle history report search screen. This will result in a chronological history of the places your vehicle was titled, registered, and serviced. The last known service or registration should be your car's most recent location. With this info, you'll be able to narrow down the search range and ensure your vehicle gets recovered faster.
  3. Alert your local police department. Officers will be able to assist in tracking down your missing vehicle with this new provided info.

Can You Track A Car With Bluetooth?

man driving car rear view on top wide windshield clear sunny day, How-Can-I-Track-My-Stolen-Car-[Inc.-5-Actionable-Ways]

Tracking your car with a Bluetooth-equipped cell phone is certainly possible and somewhat practical. But there are certain disadvantages to using these devices like inadequate network coverage. These issues are why most people opt for designed GPS systems and position tracking gadgets.

Many of these gadgets are also Bluetooth enabled and have a wider coverage area than traditional cell phones. As a result, some of these devices can cover up to 200 feet. But this amount of space is still quite limited, which is why you should opt for an option that incorporates multiple geo-location platforms and GPS.

If you do opt for these devices, it will come with benefits like prolonged battery life. The top tier models can even operate 14 days straight without running out of power. Plus, using these devices is rather simple. It's just a matter of logging into the system's website and checking your car's location.

Can I Use Google Maps To Find My Car?

Man opening google maps to use for tracking car

Google Maps won't help you track down a stolen car, but it can help in another frustrating situation. This app allows drivers to save their parking locations on both iPhone and Android devices. You'll never find yourself wandering around street corners, searching for your car ever again.

If you use an Android, using this feature is straightforward. You open up Google Maps, select its blue dot that indicates your position, and press "Save your parking." This action will save your car's location until you change or remove it.

Android phones also provide you with the ability to add notes. You can write down the position your car is inside a parking garage, take photos of what's around it, or make a note about parking meters.

On the other hand, iPhone users can make use of this feature in two different ways. If a person wants Google Maps to remember their parking location automatically, go to Settings, then over to Privacy, press into Location Services, and ensure Google Maps is set to "Always." It will allow the app to track your position even when it's not being used.

The other option is merely pressing the app's blue dot, which indicates your place on its map and tapping "Set as parking location" on the pop-up menu. It will then save your parking position inside the app for 24 hours or until you remove it manually.

How Can I Tell If My Car Has A Tracker?

car robber flashlight looking inside security

If you have a feeling someone has placed a hidden GPS tracker on your vehicle, specific tools are required to find it. These tools include a mechanic's mirror, flashlight, and a creeper capable of helping you slide under the vehicle. You might even need some specialized equipment like bug detectors or electronic sweepers when a visual inspection doesn't get the job done. Once you have correct tools, these four steps will help locate a hidden GPS tracker on your car:

1. Inspect Your Car's Exterior

Take out your flashlight and mirror. Use these tools to inspect areas like the wheel wells and under the vehicle. In many cases, these areas are where someone would put these trackers. But please, take your time, as these devices will be challenging to see and might be quite dirty.

2. Perform An Inspection Of Your Car's Interior

Once you've completed the exterior search, move onto your car's interior. The first place worth checking would be the data port. This area tends to be a favorite for hidden GPS trackers. It's worth noting that these trackers tend to be very small, which means you must check every nook and cranny. Don't make the mistake of overlooking your car's trunk, either.

3. Sweep The Vehicle With A Bug Detector

Your next step is using a bug detector like this one to do a more thorough inspection. But you still might not find anything because some trackers will only transmit when your car is moving: the sweeper won't pick these devices up because they can't detect passive trackers.

4. Know When To Seek Professional Help

If the previous steps failed, it's time to call in a professional. People who specialize in car audio, car alarms, and automotive electronics should have the necessary tools to find the tracker.

Do Financed Cars Have Tracking Devices?

It has become more and more popular for car dealerships to stash GPS tracking devices on financed cars. These trackers allow the dealership to know exactly where your car's located at all times. It's a tool that extremely helpful for sales associates who need to locate a specific car on dealership property quickly.

But the reason these car dealerships don't remove these trackers after purchase is that it makes them easier to repossess. If you miss multiple payments, the car dealership can use these trackers to locate your vehicle and take it back.

How Many Stolen Cars Are Recovered?

The average US rate for car theft recovery is 46%, but this figure will vary from state to state. For instance, Washington residents have a higher chance of getting their vehicles back with a rate of 71%. But Alabama residents don't fare nearly as well with a 28% recovery rate.

Will My Insurance Go Up If My Car Is Stolen?

One of the most common myths about insurance is that when a car goes missing, the driver's rates automatically rise. This isn't the case. Of course, the event may result in a rise in your rates, but it's not a foregone conclusion. In some cases, they won't increase at all. It all depends on your insurance company and their particular policies.

In Conclusion

man driving car rear view on top wide windshield clear sunny day

This post should have answered all of your concerns about what to do when your car gets stolen. But if you do have more questions, feel free to ask them in our comment section. We'll do our best to help in any way possible.

Lost your car keys? Be sure to check out this guide that tells you just what to do.

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