What to do if your car is stolen

thief breaking into a car with a screwdriver

Danny Baggs

Posted November 10, 2022

Having your car stolen can be stressful, costly and inconvenient. Here’s what you need to do if you find your car stolen.

Victorians are advised to remain vigilant about car theft, with many cars stolen to ‘re-birth’ or resell at a profit with used car prices high. If you are an unfortunate victim of car theft, follow this step-by-step guide on what to do after your car is stolen.

Has your car been stolen? Follow this checklist

Make sure it was stolen and not towed

Are you sure that your car was stolen? Did you park somewhere other than your usual garage spot? If you’re at home, could a household member have taken your car out?

Finally, look around for parking signs and restrictions that indicate tow-away zones. If your car may have been towed on public property, contact VicRoads. On private property, towing signs should display a phone number you can call.


table detailing the most stolen vehicles in 2020-2022

These are Victoria's most stolen vehicles in 2020-2022.


Report your car theft to the police

Once you’ve ruled out other possibilities, call the 24/7 Police Assistance Line on 131 444 to report the theft of your vehicle. The sooner you call, the sooner police officers on duty will be informed to keep an eye out for your car. Don’t touch anything at the scene that could help police investigators catch the thief, such as broken windows or garage door handles.

The police may ask for any of these vehicle details to help them identify and locate your car:

  • Vehicle make, model, colour, transmission (automatic or manual), body type (hatchback or sedan) and year of make

  • Registration / licence plate number

  • VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)

  • Car insurance company

  • Possessions that were in your car at the time of theft.

Your car’s VIN is a unique 17-character serial number that identifies your vehicle, making it harder for thieves to resell. If your car is registered in Victoria, you can look up its VIN for free using the VicRoads registration check. Otherwise, it could be found on your vehicle’s registration certificate or owner’s manual.

To help you follow up your stolen car report, request the following details from the police officer who files your report:

  • Police officer’s name and rank

  • Police station the officer is assigned to

  • Report reference number or incident number.


Victorian police vehicle

Report stolen vehicles to the police immediately. Image: Getty


Check if there is CCTV footage available

CCTV footage can help police to identify, track down and catch your car thief.

If your car was stolen from your garage or street, and you or your neighbours have security cameras, check their footage to see whether they captured the theft.

If your car was stolen from public or private property, like a council carpark or a shopping centre, contact your council or the relevant authority to see if there is any CCTV footage available for that area and time.

Send any images and videos captured by security systems through to the police by emailing the officer who filed your report or uploading them to your online police report (if available).

RACV Security technician installing a CCTV camera

CCTV footage can help identify and catch thieves. Image: Matt Harvey


Make an insurance claim

Next, contact your car insurance provider and tell them your car has been stolen to start the stolen car insurance claim process. Once you receive the police report on your stolen car, send a copy through to your insurer to aid your claim. This can also protect you from being held responsible for any accidents the thief has while driving your car.

Car theft is covered under RACV Comprehensive Car Insurance and RACV Third Party Fire and Theft policies. These policies also include the standard benefit of Hire Car after theft or attempted theft.*

RACV Complete Car Insurance offers additional benefits such as Hire Car after an incident or theft until your vehicle is repaired or until your claim is settled if your vehicle is a total loss up to a maximum of $100 per day. RACV Third Party Property Damage insurance does not cover theft.

car window glass broken

Car insurance may cover repairs for cars damaged by theft. Image: Getty


Protect your house and bank account

Think about what was in your car when it was stolen. If your house keys were there, you should contact a locksmith to change your locks so you can help prevent a break-in. If your wallet is missing, contact your bank to cancel your credit and debit cards. All valuables that were in the car should be reported to the police when you file your stolen car report.

Keep your eyes peeled online

While police are most likely to find your stolen car, you can help by keeping an eye out. 

Periodically check newspaper classifieds, car sale websites, and third-party marketplaces to see if any cars matching your vehicle’s description have been put up for sale since your car was stolen. Some resale websites allow you to report your stolen car’s details so that moderators and potential buyers can help spot your car.

If you attached a GPS tracker to your car, contact the company to receive updates on where your car is located. You can also log in to your toll payment account if your car has a toll detection unit, so you can track any toll roads that the thief takes your car on. If your smartphone or laptop was in the car when stolen, they will ‘ping’ local stations and are generally traceable even when turned off.

If you spot your car using any of these methods, give the information to the police so that they can investigate it. Do not attempt to confront the thief yourself.


man placing phone away in car

Hide any valuables when leaving your car - or better yet, take them with you. Image: Matt Harvey


Understand what happens next

If your stolen car is not found, your insurer may settle the claim by paying you the amount you are covered for, minus the excess and any other deductions that may apply to your policy. If your car is under finance, your insurer may pay your lender directly. Under most policies, the insurance company now owns the car, so if it is found after the claim is settled, the police will surrender the car to the insurance company.

If your stolen car is recovered in a damaged state, your insurer may either repair the damage or cash settle you for the cost of repairs less the excess.

If your stolen car is recovered but so badly damaged it is considered a write-off, your insurer may settle your claim as a total loss, by paying you up to your policy limit less the excess and any other deductions that may apply to your policy. If your car is under finance, your insurer may pay your lender directly.

If your stolen car is found undamaged, and it hasn’t been used in other offences, the police will contact you and let you know how to pick it up. After confirming that your car is undamaged upon pickup, contact your insurance company to withdraw your claim.


RACV Car Insurance can protect you against loss.
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The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit racv.com.au. As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product(s)issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia Pty Ltd ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678.

*Up to a maximum of $60 per day; up to a maximum of 21 days or until your vehicle is recovered or repaired, or until pay your claim if our vehicle is a total loss, whichever is the shortest period of time.