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Car theft is a car owner’s worst nightmare, and although it’s pretty standard, there are steps you can take immediately to decrease your losses if your car is stolen.

From knowing what you should do after the crime to how long you can expect your insurance payout to take, we’ve put together this helpful guide to help you during this stressful time.

So, if you want to know what to do if you’ve had your car stolen, read on to find out what steps you should take and whom to contact in this emergency. Don’t forget, if you want a reliable and comprehensive insurance policy for your car, take a look at our temporary car insurance.

Who Do You Contact If Your Car Has Been Stolen?

Contact Your Police Station

If you’re confident you’re a victim of car theft, you’ll need to call the police first. Ring 101 and ask to be put through to the local police station. Have your vehicle’s make, colour, model, and registration number to hand.

You’ll then be given a crime reference number, which you’ll need when you contact your car insurance company. If you have a black box this can be used to track down your car.

If your car is stolen and it has a black box, be sure to let the police know as it could be very valuable information. Don’t attempt to locate the car yourself as you could put yourself in danger.

Call Your Vehicle Insurance Company

Once you’ve notified the police, you’ll need to call your car insurance company to begin the claims process. Try to remember everything that your stolen vehicle contained, as you may be asked this when you report the missing car.

Try to have your policy number to hand when you call your car insurer to make this step quicker.

Inform the DVLA once your insurance provider pays you out

If your insurance company pays out for your stolen car claim, you must notify the DVLA that it’s been bought by the company. Even if the car is never found, the insurance firm now owns your stolen vehicle, so the DVLA will have to update their car records.

Get A Vehicle Tax Refund.

Another reason you must notify the DVLA about your stolen car is to have a vehicle tax refund. This will be calculated from the date you provide them with your information, so contact them as soon as possible.

As soon as you inform the DVLA that you don’t own the vehicle anymore, they’ll cancel your vehicle tax. If you pay the surcharge through Direct Debit, this will be automatically cancelled.

What to do if you had a personalised registration number

If your stolen vehicle had personalised number plates, vehicle tax refunds aren’t processed automatically, so you’ll have to request this. You’ll also need to prove the stolen car was taxed and MOT’d when it was taken, and after taking these steps, you’ll be able to ask for a tax refund.

Be sure to make an application to keep your personalised plate immediately after your car is stolen. This will ensure the number stays in your name so you can transfer it to another vehicle at a later date.

How much does it cost to keep your personalised registration number?

From 9th March 2015, the law was changed to reduce keeping a personalised number plate from £105 down to £80. This applies to online and paper transactions.

This change has seen the £25 fee for renewing the retention of a personalised plate every year, being removed. The renewal has also been extended to 10 years.


How long must you wait before you can transfer your private registration number to another vehicle?

If your stolen car had a personalised number plate and you’d like to put it on your replacement vehicle, you can apply to have it transferred after 12 months. You can’t request to have your personalised registration plate back if you’ve made a stolen car insurance claim and have notified the DVLA that you sold the car to your insurance firm.

How long does it take for insurance to pay out for a stolen vehicle?

Stolen car claims can take a while to complete, and many insurance firms have a 30 day waiting period before they’ll payout. However, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) says that insurance firms must either settle the claim or provide a reasonable offer within three months.

Keep in mind that things can delay or even jeopardise your claim. For example, if your car is stolen and the key or keyless entry card was left near or in the car, some insurers may not cover it.

This goes for cars featuring advanced technology. “Connected” cars can become victims of a theft known as “relay theft”. Car thieves use a special device to get a signal from the key fob to get into the car. This device can pick up a signal from more than 100 metres away from the car and can be bought very cheaply online.

Does the police notify the DVLA of the stolen car? Yes, if your car is stolen, the police will notify the DVLA for you. Be sure to notify the police as soon as you’re confident your vehicle has been stolen. Contacting them immediately, with as much information as possible, will give you the best chance of recovering your missing car.

You can also check our guides on what to keep in your car,  car insurance guides and why car insurance is mandatory to help keep yourself protected from any risks of your car being stolen.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, vehicle theft can happen to anyone. However, there are ways of minimising the risk of it happening to you, including installing a GPS tracking system in the car and keeping it in a locked and secure place.

If you have your car stolen, it’s essential to keep calm and follow the steps outlined in this guide to recover your stolen car. Remember, the sooner you file a police report, the more you will find the vehicle.