While hijackings and car theft dropped to nearly zero at the start of lockdown back in March 2020, car theft has increased again, it’s important to know what to do if it happens to you.
First & Foremost, report it
1. Visit your local police department ASAP to report your car was stolen – Time is of the essence, as a stolen car can be used to commit other crimes and you want the authorities to know that the car is no longer in your possession.
2. Sign the statement in person – Make sure you read, check and sign the report and take the details (name, position, office number) of the officer who helps you.
3. Get a case number -The assisting officer will provide you with a case number. Keep this handy for all further dealings on the subject.
4. Get a copy of the report – Ask the assisting officer for an official copy of the report. This could be used in insurance paperwork for your claim.
5. Notify your car insurance company of the theft as soon as possible – It is very important to follow the required steps so that when you claim, it is unencumbered and stress-free.
Then, if your car is recovered
The show’s not over if your car is recovered. In fact, it’s just begun.
- The investigating officer handling the case will inform you that they have found it.
- They will ask you to head down to the police impound lot to identify the car.
- They will also request that you provide proof of ownership of the car, like the registration documents or invoice
- If your car is insured and has been damaged, your insurance company may advise on the damage assessment procedure.
- After assessment, the assessor will either declare that your vehicle can be repaired or should be written off, dependent on the extent of the damages suffered.
- If your vehicle is a write-off, and you are comprehensively insured at the time, your insurer will compensate you in line with your policy terms and conditions.
- If the car can be repaired, your insurer will cover the cost of repairs according to the type of cover you have at the time. This may mean a cash contribution to you, or the insurer will advise where the car can be taken to for repairs, and the costs will be covered up to the limits in your policy.
- Once it is repaired, you need a police clearance certificate from your local licencing authority before you can resume possession of the car.
- To get this certificate, “take the forms, along with supporting documents and your car,” Joburg.co.za advises, “to the SAPS Clearance Unit – which fills out the forms and grants clearance status to the vehicle.
- Once you’ve submitted these forms to the licensing authority, they will clear it on their systems and you’re good to go.
Whether it’s recovered or not, still submit a claim if the car is insured
Uh oh – what if the car is recovered after you’ve claimed on it?
It can happen that once your insured car is replaced, the authorities find the original car. What now? Joburg.co.za points out that you are legally obliged to let your insurer know. Not doing so could constitute fraud and lead to prosecution. Protect yourself against the financial fallout of having a car stolen or high jacked