Protecting your vehicle: what to do if your car is stolen

Car thief with black gloves breaking into car

159 vehicles are estimated to be stolen every day in the UK.

According to the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in 2022, 58,082 vehicles were stolen, resulting in an increase of 9,590 since the previous year (18%).

Here’s what you should do if you find that your vehicle has been stolen, the steps you can take to recover it, and a few tips on how to prevent your vehicle from being stolen.

After your car is stolen

Answering the following questions would be a good idea before you contact anyone about your missing car:

  • Have I parked my vehicle somewhere else?
  • Does anybody else have access to my keys and have they borrowed it?
  • Was it parked somewhere it shouldn’t have been and has been towed?

Once you’ve answered these questions and you’re confident your vehicle has been stolen, here’s what to do.

1. Contact the police

Have your car’s registration number, make, model, and colour on hand, and report the stolen car to the police by calling 101.

You’ll get issued a crime reference number once you’ve reported the stolen car, and the police will tell the DVLA about the theft.

They’ll also let you know if the council has towed your car.

2. Contact your insurance provider

After contacting the police, you should then tell your insurance provider about the stolen car.

3. Contact the DVLA if the claim is settled

You must contact the DVLA if your insurer pays out on your claim and tell them that you’ve technically sold the car to your insurer.

If you were to do this, check out how to tell the DVLA your car’s been sold at GOV.UK

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

If you discover that your tools have been stolen from your van, you need to contact the police right away. They’ll issue you a crime reference number, and then you can contact your insurance provider to make a claim.

Be prepared with receipts or proof of purchase when contacting your insurer. 

Van insurance policies don’t usually cover tools or goods you keep in your van as standard.

Do any car insurance policies not cover car theft?

The most basic insurance cover known as ‘third-party-only (TPO)’ does not 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

The recovery rate for stolen vehicles is estimated to be around 25-30%.

You should tell your insurance provider immediately if the police inform you that your car’s been found, and pass on all the information you got from the police.

Your insurer should cover any damage to your vehicle if you have TPFT or comprehensive insurance.

Your insurer will assess what repairs are needed, and if the repair cost exceeds the car’s value, they may declare it a write-off. If this were the case, your insurer would likely offer to pay the car’s market value when it was stolen.

Can black box insurance help with a stolen car?

The police can use the GPS tracker on your black box to trace it if it is missing.

Not all black box or telematics insurance policies have GPS tracking, so speak with your insurer or read your policy documents to check.

Preventing cat theft

To fully eliminate the risk of someone stealing your car is impossible, but there are procedures you could take to protect your car from theft. Check out this handy guide from Admiral.


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