Gear Head

How to Track & Detect a Stolen Car

car thief
car thief

How do you track your car if it has been stolen? Is the car you are about to purchase a stolen vehicle? Here is how to find out! A huge number of cars are stolen almost on a daily basis all over the world. Some snatched at gun point while others stolen due to the mistakes of the owners but in all, having your car(s) stolen can be an overpowering experience. Car thieves go to the length of changing the vehicle registration number, chassis and even repaint the car. One thing to note is that car thieves rarely use the cars they have stolen as they either resell to unsuspecting customers looking to buy used cars or tear down the car and sell of its parts bit by bit.


Your car has just been stolen either at gun point or snatched from the car park. Panic sets in; you are confused as you realize you have no tracking device in your car. What are the first steps to take in such situation?

  1. MAKE A REPORT: The first thing to do when your car has been stolen is to call the police or go straight and make a report at the police station. Provide enough information about your stolen car, no matter how inconsequential it may seem to you. Time is an important factor to consider in the case of a stolen car situation because the longer you delay in making a report the less chances of finding your car. Give the police correct and adequate information so as to speed up the process of tracking down your car. License plate Number, Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), brand, color and model of the car; these details can go a long way in helping the Police.
  2. CONTACT YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY.: After appropriate documentation by the police, contact your insurance company immediately and report the car theft. Provide all information required such as the last location of your car before it was snatched or stolen, review your insurance coverage for situations such as these.
  3. AWARENESS: Enlist the help of commercial drivers, even private car owners can be of help. If you have a picture of your car, make copies and distribute or post in car parks, shopping malls and bus stations. You can also offer a reward as this can be a fast way to track down your car. If you perchance you discover your car abandoned in a garage or an unfamiliar neighborhood, stay a safe distance away but still keep an eye on your car as the thief might still be in the area. Contact the police and wait till they arrive.


Every car, no matter the brand comes with a vehicle identification number commonly shortened to VIN. The Vehicle identification number is a code that identifies a SPECIFIC vehicle. It is likened to the car’s finger print as it is only unique to a particular car. When looking to buy a used car, it is important to conduct your own search of the vehicles identification number. You can find the VIN code in places such as the front of the engine and at the corner of the dash board very close to the windshield on the driver’s side.  If you are not sure what the VIN is or suspect that it has been tampered with or it appears scratchy, do not go ahead with purchase as it is likely to be a stolen vehicle.


As an unsuspecting customer looking for a used car to purchase, there are ways you can detect if a car of your interest is stolen. 

  1. LICENSE PLATES: Check if the letters and numbers on the license plate match the state you are in. This might not be an instant red flag but one can’t be too careful. Does the plate look inferior or has it been replaced? Is the license plate fixed correctly in place with screws or are they held on with cello tapes? If the license plate looks out of shape or doesn’t match the correct size a license plate should be, something is definitely wrong.
  2. CHECK FOR OBVIOUS MECHANICAL PROBLEMS: If still in doubt of the car you are about to purchase, have your mechanic come around to look the car over. A competent mechanic will be able to find faults and point out things that may seem odd with the car.  He can tell if the VIN has been tampered with.
  3. SCRUTINIZE THE INTERIOR OF THE CAR: If the interior of the car appears to have signs of a struggle or worse if there are stains that look to like blood, you might be looking at an evidence of a robbery gone wrong. Ask pointed questions concerning the state of the car and if not satisfied, contact the Police.
  4. SCRUTINIZE THE SELLER/DEALER: Be wary of car sellers/dealers who prefer to do business over the phone or whose address keeps changing from time to time. When you go to buy a used car, ask the seller about his place of work and where he lives. If you are not satisfied with the answer, you may be dealing with a car thief.

Car theft can happen to anybody, even to the best of us can fall victim and so it is advisable for every car owner to install a car tracking device (It doesn’t matter if your car is a luxury one or a cheap one) to make the process of tracking and recovery easier and faster.

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