Legal Lens: Car theft and vandalism

Legal Lens

The Brown & Crouppen Legal Lens takes a closer look at everyday legal issues and gives you a better understanding of topics that may affect you.

ST. LOUIS – Auto theft and vandalism have skyrocketed in the United States over the last year.

What steps should you take if your car gets vandalized or stolen? According to Andrea McNairy, managing attorney at Brown & Crouppen, victims need to document the damages.

“Make sure you take inventory, including glovebox and trunk. See what items are missing. Take lots of pictures. Once you have done that, if any credit cards were stolen, cancel those,” she said. “Then file a police report. A lot of insurance companies will require those to make a claim. So if the police won’t come to you, you will have to go to the police department to get the report to make claim.”

What should you do if your car is stolen?

“Very similar. Make a list of all the things you can remember that were in your vehicle. Call police, first thing. If you can find your VIN number, it’s often on your paperwork whether you lease or are buying a car, it’s on your loan paperwork. You want to provide (police) with a VIN number,” McNairy said. “Oftentimes lately, people have been finding their vehicle through their own Google searches when their car is stolen. A lot of times even out of state for auction. So you want to make an inventory and you’ll need that to make your insurance claim.”

If your car was stolen and you left the keys inside an unlocked vehicle, can that affect what happens next?

“You can still make a claim. Most insurances will cover car theft but, as we have seen on news lately, you are making yourself more of a target if you heat up a car in the driveway while it’s running (or) if you’re leaving doors unlocked,” McNairy said.

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