How To Find Your Stolen Car (Step by Step Guide) — (2022)

Finding out that your car has been stolen can be an overwhelming feeling, it’s like someone violated a sanctuary of yours. There are a few immediate steps that you can take to increase the chances of finding your car.

In this guide, we list a few tips on how to find your stolen car and what are the first things you should do once you notice that your car has been stolen. By following this guide, you may be able to find the car or help the police investigate the cases better.

How To Find Your Stolen Car (Step by Step Guide) — (1)

How to Find My Stolen Car

Make sure your car is actually stolen

Before you start to do something to locate your stolen car, you must ensure that it is actually stolen. It may happen that you’re spatially confused or disoriented and you don’t remember where you parked your car. So, follow the below suggestion to do a stolen car check.

Check the parking lot. Remember where you parked the car and try to follow your trail, where did you go, which store you hit, which way you walked, did you park close to some “parking landmark”, etc. Just trace back your movements and see if you can locate the car.

It’s easy to get confused if you have a lot of things in your mind and the parking lot is big. Many people park without paying attention to the details. It can happen to you as well.

Use the car key to unlock the doors and try to hear the beeping sound coming from the car. Walk all around the perimeter and keep pressing the key.

If you use car tracking apps, check it on your phone and see if you get any signal or if you can locate it on the map. Many new cars come with tracking apps that let you know where the car is parked.

Check with the towing companies. Maybe you parked illegally and your car was towed. Inspect the parking lot violation signs to learn which towing company covers the parking lot. Call them before reporting the car stolen. In many cases, people freak out and directly call the police without realizing that the car was actually towed away.

Use the VIN number to track your car. By doing a VIN check you get a history report of the car including accidents, service records, towing records, etc.

If you did all of these and you’re sure that your car is unfortunately stolen, then don’t waste time and move to the next section.
How To Find Your Stolen Car (Step by Step Guide) — (2)

How to Find my Stolen Car

In this section, we’ve listed all the possible ways you can track your stolen car. Follow the steps one by one to increase the chance of finding your stolen vehicle.

What you should do if your car is stolen

  • Call the police
  • Contact the insurance company
  • Track the car via GPS
  • Check security camera recordings
  • Check your city’s parking violations database
  • Check with towing companies
  • Track the car using VIN Notify the rental company

File a “Car Stolen” Report to the Local Police

The first thing you should do is file a car stolen report at your local police station. Make sure to provide as many details and information as possible. A vehicle stolen report typically includes:

  • The license plate. The police can run it on their database and possibly locate it.
  • The VIN. This is a unique number that can be found on your insurance form, vehicle purchase information, car inspection paperwork, it’s even stamped somewhere on the dashboard.
  • Your identification.
  • Your car’s brand, model, color, any noticeable marks.
  • The location where you last saw your car

The more details you provide on the report, the higher chances that the police can help you retrieve your stolen car. Don’t forget to keep a copy of the report since you’ll need it for the insurance claim.

If your car is stolen and is later impounded by the police, bring your ID card, driving license, and other supporting documents to prove the ownership of the vehicle.

Usually, the police may impound the stolen car when checking for traffic violations or improper parking. If you can prove that the car is yours, you can get it back pretty fast.

Contact Your Insurance Company

When you conclude that your car is stolen, contact your insurance company and let them know about the situation, usually, you’ll need to fill out a report. Depending on the insurance coverage, you may use the car stolen insurance payout which means the insurance company buys your missing car.

If the car is recovered after you file the insurance claim, call again the insurance company and notify them. Technically the car belongs to the insurance company, you can’t use it anymore, but usually, there’s a clause on the contract that allows you to re-buy your (now found) car.

Use GPS Tracking Device to Locate Your Stolen Car

Many people use GPS tracking systems on their cars. If you’re one of them, track the car’s route using the GPS device. In some cases, you may be able to even turn off the car remotely.

Generally speaking, we’d recommend using tracking devices for your vehicle. That way no matter where your car is stolen, you can track its location easily. If you find it, notify the police, never confront the burglar yourself. It may be dangerous, let the police handle it.

How To Find Your Stolen Car (Step by Step Guide) — (3)

Check the Stolen Car via Security Camera Systems

It’s a good idea to check the moment that your car was stolen via nearby security camera systems. Nowadays most of the stores use security cameras, even parking lots or busy streets are equipped with cameras.

Check around and see if there are security cameras monitoring the sport where you parked the car. Maybe there was a public camera there, a front store, etc. If you find any, inquire with the owners and see if you can playback the footage.

If your car was stolen in your home, then check the cameras on the garage, driveway, yard, anything you may have. Playback and take a screenshot from the screen.

Find your Stolen Car using VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)

Another way to locate your stolen car is by using the VIN number. The Vehicle Identification Number is a unique serial number used by vehicle manufacturers to identify individual motor vehicles, towed vehicles, motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds.

You can find this number in any paperwork related to the car such as registration, inspection, insurance, proof of purchase, service reports, etc. Additionally, it is stamped on the dashboard, close to where the inspection sticker is placed.

So, if your car is stolen, you can track the car online using the VIN number. Let’s say the car was stolen and made its way back to the market, they’ll leave some trace online via the VIN since that number is always required.

How to find the stolen car using the VIN number (quick guide):

Step 1. There are many websites that provide car history reports. One of them is, go there and enter the information of your car. Then purchase your vehicle’s history report, usually, it costs around $40 but it’s worth it.

Step 2. The report will provide a chronological history of the places where your car was registered, inspected, titled, and serviced. If you don’t recognize the last entries, it means the car was handled by someone else (the thief) and not you. Using it you can narrow down the search.

Step 3. Contact the police and provide them with the new information.

Check the City’s for Parking Violation Reports

It’s a good idea to track your stolen car by checking your city’s parking violation reports. Sometimes the stolen car is abandoned or incorrectly parked somewhere and then abandoned, after a while, it may have been fined.

All the car tickets are logged on the parking violation database which can be checked online. Follow the steps below to do a stolen car lookup.

  • Go to your city’s (town, village) website and locate the parking violation section.
  • Enter your license plate and other required information to see if your car indeed shows up there.
  • If you get a hit, contact the police or the city to get the exact spot where the car was ticketed. Maybe you’ll find it there. If you have already reported the car stolen, let the police handle the search, don’t confront anyone who might be in the car’s possession.

Check for your Stolen Car’s Parts that are Being Sold Online

Sometimes the stolen cars are cannibalized and stolen online for parts. But the major car parts already have the VIN number stamped on them. If your car is being sold for parts, it’s a good idea to check online where these parts are being traded.

There are automated checking websites that can help you automatically scan the main trade platform to see if there’s a match of your VIN. If you get a hit, call the police and let them handle the issue of getting your stolen car back. Sometimes the car thieves are quite dangerous and unstable.

Inform the Company if your Rented Car is Stolen

If your stolen car is rented, contact the leasing company immediately after you notice that your car is missing. Tell them that you’ve called the piece and ask their representative for the car’s identification number (VIN).

Additionally, file the incident report with the leasing company and review the liability contract to see if the insurance will cover it. Depending on the coverage and terms, the stolen car may be fully covered by the insurance.

How To Find Your Stolen Car (Step by Step Guide) — (4)

Common Questions When a Car Is Stolen

In this section, we’ve listed the most common questions regarding a stolen car.

Does Insurance Cover Stolen Cars?

It depends on the type of insurance that you have and the contract. If you have comprehensive insurance for your car, you can get full coverage that provides financial compensation.

Usually, you need to buy both collision and comprehensive coverage to have your damages compensated in case your car is stolen, vandalized, damaged, scratched, etc.

How Long Does it take for the Insurance Company to Pay Out your Stolen Car?

If you have full coverage of your car including when it gets stolen, then you should file a claim right away. Usually, the insurance company takes a while to investigate the case before paying out the compensation.

The waiting period is typically 30-45 days before they’ll payout for a stolen car. They wait to see if the car will be located and they’ll perform an investigation.

If your car is recovered but is actually damaged, the insurance company will evaluate whether the car can be repaired or is a total loss. If it is determined to be a total loss (beyond repair), they’ll pay out the cash value of your car.

Let’s say you got the financial compensation for your stolen car, but a few weeks later the car is recovered. What happens now? Well, the insurance company has the ownership of the car, so you either can buy it back from them or just keep the compensation and start looking for a new car.

How Long does it take for the Police to Find a Stolen Car?

This one depends on the area that your car is stolen, whether there are any clues such as CCTV videos of your car getting snatched, the efficiency of your local police, the crime rate in the area, etc. Additionally, if your car was randomly stolen and then abandoned somewhere, then it’s easier to find it.

The general rule is that if any stolen car is not found within 60 days, the chances of recovering it becomes very low. Most likely it has been cannibalized or made its way to a scrapyard.

Do you still owe Payments on your Stolen Car?

If your car is stolen and you had it financed, you still have to continue paying the monthly installment while you lodge a claim against your insurance company. Technically the car is still yours, it’s under your name and you have to pay the installments timely.

Not paying for the financed cars means your credit score will get hurt and your interest may increase as well. Be careful, otherwise, your future car loans may be received at a higher interest rate. In case your stolen car can not be recovered, pay the balance using the compensation money from the insurance company.

What happens when your Stolen Car is Recovered?

If your stolen car is found or recovered, call the police and let them know. The police should remove your vehicle from the stolen car alarm list. Don’t use your car or apply for plates until you’ve been notified that the alarm has been canceled. Otherwise, you may end up getting arrested in possession of a stolen vehicle.

If your car was damaged or totaled, inform your insurance company and file a claim. Don’t apply for plates until the matter has been resolved.

If your car was recovered but without the plates, go to your local DMV to apply for new plates. Check their website for the paperwork that you need to bring in.

What percentage of Stolen Cars are Recovered?

According to Geico and Progressive Insurance, the US average rate of stolen cars that are recovered is 20% but this figure varies among the states and specific areas. The higher the crime rate in an area, the lower the chances of the car getting returned to the owner.

About 1 in 5 vehicles is eventually recovered, and early a third (30%) of drivers get their cars back with an average of $1500 worth of damage.

The most frequently stolen vehicles in the US are Honda Accord and Civic, followed by Ford and Chevrolet Pickups, then Toyota, etc. The older the car, the easier it is to be stolen. While the newer makes offer more options for recovery such a GPS tracking.


Any car that is left unattended can be stolen or burglarized. If it happens to you, try the suggestions listed in this guide to increase the chances of recovering it. Try not to panic, it’s not the end of the world.

File the car theft report to your local police department, inform the insurance company, inspect the area for any security cameras that may have captured the theft, search online using the car’s VIN, check the violation database of your city. Hopefully, you’ll get a hit and recover the car.

Once the stolen car is recovered, notify the police and make sure the matter is resolved with your insurance company. Don’t drive the car and don’t apply for plates until all the legal obstacles are cleared.

We hope you don’t ever go through the experience of having your car stolen. If you have any other suggestions, let us know in the comment box below.


How do I locate a car by VIN number? ›

Once you have your VIN, use a company like AutoCheck or CarFax to get a vehicle history report. These reports note whenever a vehicle has been registered, titled, or serviced, meaning they can help you track it down. Look for the last location noted on the report and contact the authorities in that area to report it.

Can I track my car? ›

Find My Car - GPS Navigation (Android)

Open the app and tap the Park button. You can then add a note to your location and snap a photo of it. When you're ready to return to your car, open the app again and tap the Find My Car button.

How do you find a missing car? ›

The app, Vahan Samanvaya is launched to help police and public trace the database of stolen vehicles. The app, Vahan Samanvaya, launched by Union Minister of State for Home Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary, will help police and public trace the database of stolen vehicles.

How can I track a car without GPS? ›

What is SIM based tracking? SIM-based tracking or SIM consent is a robust and accurate way of tracking system helps you to locate the exact position of the cellular network without using a GPS device or without making a call. SIM-based tracking works the same as tracking with GPS devices.

Can Google find my car? ›

Google has officially rolled out a new feature to Google Maps on iOS and Android that will help you find your parked car. Google already offers automatic parking location detection in some cases (I've noticed it works when it wants to) so you may have seen it before.

Can I track my stolen car? ›

You can track a stolen car online with the vehicle identification number. VIN not only helps you check if your car is stolen but also plays an important role on locating and finding your stolen car.

How can I track where my car goes? ›

The first option is to use a built-in GPS feature, such as OnStar (GM), HondaLink, and FordPass. The second is to download a GPS tracking app like Google Maps, SpySat, or SpotAngels. The third option is to install a GPS tracking device and pair it with your phone.

How do I scan my car for tracking? ›

How To Find a GPS Tracker on Your Vehicle - YouTube

What happens if your car is stolen and never found? ›

We won't release the vehicle until the charges have been paid. We'll dispose of the vehicle after 14 days, if it hasn't been collected. The legal basis for imposing these charges is explained in a House of Commons briefing paper here.

What are the chances of a stolen car being recovered? ›

Interestingly, although California has a relatively high stolen car recovery rate (60%), the state also ranks fourth in the worst states for car theft nationally.

Is there an app to find lost car keys? ›

There are several apps of this nature, such as the Chipolo app with Tile Mate. After you've acquired your Chipolo application, just attach the Tile Mate key tracker to your key and install the Tile app on your iPhone or Android device. If you lose your keys, simply launch the Tile app and select the keys icon.

Can you track a stolen car with Bluetooth? ›

Bluetooth trackers are available for cars in the event of theft. However, they are not always the most reliable. If you have lost your car and it has bluetooth devices built in, you can work out whether the car is nearby by using your iPhone to attempt to connect to it.

Can a car be tracked by its navigation system? ›

With a dedicated navigation system, you won't experience such an inconvenience. A GPS navigation device also offers another advantage besides giving accurate directions. In the event that the unthinkable happens and your car gets stolen, you can use the device installed on your car to quickly track down where it is.

How does Google Maps know where my car is parked? ›

When you let Google Maps take note of your activity, Maps will automatically remember when you park your car (even if you park far from your destination). After you're done navigating somewhere, at the bottom, turn on Know where you parked. Allow Google Maps to access your Motion and Fitness Activity.

Can onstar track a stolen car if not activated? ›

If your car is stolen and you have Onstar, they may be able to track it for you even if your Onstar subscription is not active. Onstar uses GPS technology to track the location of its subscribers' vehicles, so as long as the stolen car has power and is in range of a cellular signal, Onstar should be able to track it.

How do you get a car on Google Maps? ›

When you get directions, you can change the blue arrow to a car or other vehicle.
Choose your vehicle icon in the Google Maps app
  1. On your device, open the Google Maps app .
  2. Start navigation. Learn how to navigate to a place.
  3. Tap the blue arrow, or the vehicle if you already changed it.
  4. Tap the icon you want to use.

Can I locate my car with XM radio? ›

Yes, if you have an active SiriusXM Guardian or Uconnect Access subscription. First contact the police to report your stolen vehicle and obtain a case number. Then call the corresponding number below and request Stolen Vehicle Assistance.

Can XM Radio track your location? ›

We collect information about your Vehicle, your Vehicle's location and the nature of the request when your Vehicle initiates a service command or when you use the Services through the in-vehicle button or the FCA mobile app or other means.

How do I know if my car has LoJack? ›

If you can't locate the device, another way to possibly find out if your car has one is to use your vehicle identification number (VIN). You can call LoJack at 1-877-563-0032 and ask. Keep in mind that they're not obligated to give you any information. This policy is simply a safety precaution.

How much does a car tracker cost? ›

Compare the best GPS vehicle trackers
ProductBest forEquipment price*
Vyncs GPS TrackerBest for long-term tracking$89.99
MOTOsafety GPS TrackerBest for new drivers$39.99
Bouncie Smart Driving CompanionBest for vehicle maintenance$77.00
SpyTec STI GL300 GPS TrackerBest portable tracker$29.95
1 more row

Where do car dealers put tracking devices? ›

You can install a GPS tracking device nearly anywhere on a car or fleet vehicle- in the front or rear bumper, wheel wells, under floor mats or seats, or in the glove compartment. However, for fleet tracking purposes, GPS trackers are almost always installed on the dashboard through an on board diagnostics (OBD) port.

Where is the hidden tile tracker? ›

In the Tile app, tap Settings. Scroll down to and select Manage Hidden Tiles to see the Tiles you have hidden or replaced. Tap Unhide next to the Tile that you wish to unhide.

What year cars have GPS tracking? ›

GPS navigation for vehicles began officially in 2001 from private companies due to the growing technology and shrinking receiver size, which in turn brought about personal navigation devices inside civilian vehicles such as Garvin and TomTom.

Can you look up a VIN number for free? ›

The National Insurance Crime Bureau offers a free VIN check to determine if the vehicle was ever reported stolen, or damaged to the point where it was issued a salvage title. NICB offers up to five free VIN checks from one IP address within a 24 hour period, using data supplied by car insurance companies.

Can I lookup a VIN number online? ›

You can get a free VIN check at the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), or Just pop in your car's digits and these sites will do the VIN lookup and give you information on the vehicle. But you should use more than one of these sites to get the full picture.

How do I track a car that has been shipped? ›

Call your car shipping company to ask about the location of your vehicle. Your driver may have enabled GPS tracking, meaning that you can find out exactly where your vehicle is. The broker can often estimate your delivery date even if the driver didn't turn on vehicle tracking.

Can I track my car with Sirius radio? ›

Yes, if you have an active SiriusXM Guardian or Uconnect Access subscription.

How do I check if a car is stolen? ›

If a previous owner bought the car on finance then you could also still be liable for any outstanding payments. Therefore you need to check if a car is stolen.
Protect Yourself
  1. Verify the VIN of the car.
  2. Get a vehicle inspection by a reputable mechanic.
  3. Check the vehicle's history with an online car check.
21 Aug 2022

How can I find the owner of a vehicle for free? ›

Find Vehicle Registration Details with an SMS

Type VAHAN <space> vehicle's registration number. Send it to 7738299899.

Is a VIN number public information? ›

Because VIN data is not public record, it is completely safe to provide your car's VIN to a potential buyer, be that online or in person. A VIN can only be used to obtain general information about your vehicle's service records and history.

Is VinCheckup com legit? ›

There's a reason why VinCheckup made it to the top of the list of publishers. The two variables VinCheckup highlights are reliability and precision. The record type could be any, VinCheckup strives to offer you with all the comprehensive and updated data you can count on.

Is CARFAX free to use? ›

A free CARFAX report is also available through many dealer websites. As you browse a dealer's used car inventory, look for links to free CARFAX Reports. If a link is unavailable, contact the dealer and ask them for the CARFAX Report. Free CARFAX Reports are available at many car dealerships in your area.

What is Fail Cat? ›

No, Fail Cat is an enthusiast built website only for the KIA Telluride. If you have the know-how, the code is open source and you can build a site for other vehicles in your spare time. This thread credits the specific site makers.

What does it mean when a car dealership says a car is in transit? ›

If your vehicle is in transit, it means a designation for vehicles that have come off the assembly line but have not yet arrived at the dealership. Depending where the model line is produced the vehicle can arrive at the dealership within 3-30 days.

How do I track my new Toyota? ›

You're right—you can track your Toyota from your phone! To keep tabs on your car, you'll need to download the Toyota app. Then, simply open the Vehicle Finder feature. Alternatively, you can scroll down on the app dashboard and select Last Parked Location.

Can I locate my car with Uconnect? ›

If your vehicle is stolen, contact local law enforcement immediately to file a stolen vehicle report. Once this report has been filed, Uconnect Care can help locate your vehicle. The Uconnect Care Agent will ask for the stolen vehicle report number issued by local law enforcement.

Does XM Radio have GPS? ›

Does SiriusXM offer traffic navigation and other services? Yes we do.

Can XM Radio track your location? ›

Not every car with Sirius XM has this tracking capability, nor is this something that all of its radios can do, as it has nothing to do with the company's audio side. Only those with Sirius XM Connected Vehicle Services like InTouch or UConnect Access enabled can do this.

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