BusinessTech reports that with the gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions, road crime has returned to around 60% of pre-pandemic figures.
While hijackings and car theft dropped to nearly zero at the start of lockdown back in March, Charles Morgan, Operations Executive at Netstar, tells BusinessTech that “now that we’ve all adjusted to the new reality, our records show we are heading back towards business as usual, in the mainstream and the illicit economy”. With car theft back in business, it’s important to know what to do if it happens to you.
Here are practical steps to take if your car is stolen.
First, report it:
- Visit your local police department ASAP to report your car as 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. According to Carinfo.co.za, “The police department will ask you questions and fill out all the paperwork for you, though you’ll almost certainly need to go down to the station and sign the report”.Provide as much information for the report as you can, including your personal details and identification; the make, model, year and colour, vehicle identification number (VIN), and any distinguishing features about your car (e.g. marks or dents).It helps to have original or certified copies of your driver’s licence, vehicle title and registration documents to speed things along.Please don’t dial the national emergency number unless your life and safety are at risk e.g., you’re alone in an isolated place and somebody is threatening you.
- 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.
- Get a case number.The assisting officer will provide you with a case number. Keep this handy for all further dealings on the subject.
- 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.
- 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 is not over.
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 bill of sale.
If your car is insured and has been damaged, your insurance company may advise on the damage assessment procedure (depending on your policy terms and conditions and the driving condition of the car).
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.