It’s estimated that 159 vehicles are stolen in the UK every day. According to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), 58,082 vehicles were stolen in 2022, a jump of 9,590 since the previous year (18%).
Here’s what to do if someone steals your car, the steps you can take to recover it, and a few tips on how to prevent it from being stolen.
After your car is stolen
Before contacting anyone, we recommend answering the following questions if you can’t find your car:
- have I parked my vehicle somewhere else?
- does anybody else have access to my keys and have they have borrowed it?
- was it parked somewhere it shouldn’t have been and has been towed?
Note: If you live in London, you can check if your car’s been towed by using TRACE.
If you're confident someone has stolen your vehicle, here’s what to do.
1. Contact the police
Report the stolen car to the police by dialling 101. Have your car’s registration number, make, model and colour to hand.
Once reported, you’ll get a crime reference number and the police will tell the DVLA about the theft.
They’ll also let you know if the council’s towed your car.
2. Contact your insurance provider
Next, tell your insurance provider about the car theft. If we insure your vehicle, you can learn everything you need to know about making a claim here.
3. Contact the DVLA if the claim is settled
If your insurer pays out on your claim you must contact the DVLA and report that you’ve technically sold the car to your insurer.
What to do if your van is stolen
It’s the same process as if your car had been stolen.
Your first step should always be to contact the police.
What to do if your tools are stolen from your van
You need to contact the police right away. They’ll give you a crime reference number, and you can then contact your insurance provider to make a claim.
Make sure you have receipts or proof of purchase ready.
Do any car insurance policies not cover car theft?
Third-party-only (TPO) – the most basic insurance cover – doesn't cover theft because it's only designed to protect you if you injure someone with your vehicle or cause damage to their vehicle.
Vehicle theft is covered with third-party, fire and theft (TPFT) or comprehensive car insurance policies.
What happens if your car is recovered after theft
It’s estimated that the recovery rate for stolen vehicles is only around 25-30%.
If the police inform you that your car’s been found, you should tell your insurance provider immediately and pass on all the information you got from the police.
If you have TPFT or comprehensive insurance, your insurer should cover any damage to your vehicle.
Your insurer will assess what repairs are needed. If the repair cost exceeds the car's value, they may declare it a write-off. If this happens, your insurer will likely offer to pay the car’s market value when it was stolen.
Can black box insurance help with a stolen car?
A black box tracks your driving style to establish whether you’re a safe driver, but police can use the GPS tracker to trace it if missing.
Note that not all black box or telematics insurance policies have GPS tracking. Speak with your insurer or read your policy documents to check.
Read the answers to the most commonly asked black box questions here.
Preventing car theft
It's impossible to fully eliminate the risk of someone stealing your car, but read our advice on protecting your car from theft. If you have a keyless car, protect your fob: find out more about how to protect your car from relay theft here.