What Happens When Your Car Is Stolen Then Found? A Guide

What happens when your car is stolen then found?’ is a question that only a few people have to ask because not every victim of automobile theft gets their car returned. If you are asking, you need to keep in mind that there are factors to consider with your insurer and the police.

Stolen Car Is Recovered ~ Ran When Parked

Unfortunately, automobile theft is a serious crime in the United States, with a vehicle stolen every 44 seconds, and nearly half of them are never recovered. If you’re lucky enough to get your car found, read our article below to know what to expect.

What Happens if a Stolen Car Is Recovered?

If a stolen car is recovered, the police would identify the vehicle and document all the important information like its condition, recovery date, location, and damage. Then, it would be impounded at the police impound lot, carry out an investigation, and then the case goes through a legal process.

When your stolen vehicle is recovered, the police will contact you or whoever has ownership of the car. They would keep it in the impound lot for safekeeping until the rightful owner claims it. You would also have to pay the impound and storage fees, so it’s best to recover the car quickly.

When you recover your car, you will provide proof of ownership to the police. Then, you will receive your car in its recovered condition and might have to spend your money to restore the vehicle, depending on your car insurance coverage.

Keep in mind that if a suspect was identified, the case would go through a court hearing. The court would determine if the car should be returned to the owner or sold at an auction. If it is sold at an auction, the proceeds will go to the state and to you as compensation for losing your car.

What Happens if Your Car Is Found but You Have Received the Insurance Payout?

If your car is found, but you have received the insurance payout, the car will be owned by the insurance company. The company can decide to sell the car as long as it is in good condition. You can use your insurance payout to purchase a new car.

Car insurance companies are meant to take official ownership of the car once it has been reported stolen. But keep in mind that most companies don’t change the title of your car to their name because cars are hardly ever recovered. They will not want to go through the stress of transferring ownership and paying the transfer fees for no reason.

This means that, although you would have received the insurance payout for your car, the police would contact you as the registered owner. Many people would be tempted to keep it a secret and keep the car and the insurance payout, but it’s recommended to be honest with your car insurance company.

If you were still paying the loan on the car, the registered owner would be the lender. You might also be thinking of rejecting the car. Well, if the car has minor damage, the insurer will provide you with funds to repair it.

But if it was fully damaged, you will get the cash value of the car and can use this to buy a new one and reject the stolen one.

What Happens if Your Car Is Found While Filing Your Claim?

If your car is found while filing your claim, you need to contact the insurer. You might also have to contact the financing or leasing company if your car loan hasn’t been paid off. The insurer will pay the claim to the company or to you for repairs.

Car is Found While Filing ~ Ran When Parked

When you’re in the middle of filing your insurance claim and you get your car back, the auto insurance company will check how many repairs you need and provide you with funds for that. Most stolen recovered cars don’t come back the way they were. So, rather than submitting a claim for car theft, submit one for car repairs.

The comprehensive insurance policy will foot the bill, but not the liability insurance. Comprehensive car insurance usually covers the damage to your car caused by theft. Also, your car might suffer vandalism, and the insurance provider can provide you with money for repairs through comprehensive coverage.

If the car is completely damaged and you can no longer drive it, the insurer will give you the cash value of the car. Also, if items that were in your car were stolen, they won’t be covered by car insurance. You can only cover these items with homeowners insurance or renter insurance.

Does the Value of a Stolen Then Found Car Drop?

The value of a stolen-then-found car does not drop significantly, except if the vehicle was damaged by the thief or has missing parts. A stolen-recovered vehicle might have some damage, but it will still be repairable. So, a stolen-recovered automobile is not a total loss.

But, the value of the car might be diminished a little if it was damaged or some of the parts were removed. Some thieves might take costly parts from the car, like the catalytic converter and engine, and leave it abandoned.

The make and model of the car would determine whether the value of the car will drop. For instance, a luxury car that was recovered would lose more value than a cheaper car. Also, how long the car has been missing would affect the value of the car. If the car has been stolen for a long time, it would lose a lot of value.

Also, the condition of the car when it was recovered would determine the value of the car. But, even if the car has been repaired, the value of the recovered car will be lower than one with a clean title.

Who Owns the Items in a Recovered Car?

The items inside a recovered car belong to you as long as they were yours before. If they are not yours, the police will keep them as evidence. If the insurer is now the owner of your car and has filed the claim, the items still belong to you.

Owns the Items ~ Ran When Parked

Also, auto insurance does not cover the items stolen in your car, there is nothing you can do about that. The insurer will return your personal items and then sell the car.

What Should You Do if Your Car Gets Stolen?

If your car gets stolen, you should file a police report and notify the insurance company. The insurer will determine whether the vehicle is a total loss, and you can start the claims process. Then, you can receive the claim and purchase a new car.

Before filing a stolen vehicle report, ensure that the car is stolen. It might have been towed if it was illegally parked, or a friend or family member might have taken it. Once it has been confirmed, report the automobile theft to the police. Don’t call 911, but contact the non-emergency line or visit the station.

Then, get in touch with your insurer to file a claim.

You will give your insurer the date and time of the theft, where the car and the car keys were, the title to the car, a detailed description of the car and its condition when it was stolen, and the names and contact of those who have access the car, the contact information of the financing company and the report number.

Also, if the car is still being financed, you need to contact the lender and let them know. But you will still have to make payments. You should also inform the DMV because they keep a database of stolen vehicles. Remember to stay on top of the insurer so they can complete your claim process quickly.

How Does the Police Recover Stolen Cars?

The police recover stolen cars after you file a report at the local police department. The report should include relevant information. Then, law enforcement will investigate the case and check all surveillance footage that can identify the thief. They will use GPS tracking to find the car.

Police Recover Stolen Cars ~ Ran When Parked

You need to give the police information like the time and location of the theft, make, model, and license plate number. Eyewitnesses can also tip off the police, and they can work with the National Insurance Crime Bureau to get the car.

If the car stolen is not found, they will continue their investigation, checking junkyards, chop shops, pawn shops, and other places. They can also check online car websites where the thief might be trying to sell the motor vehicles or their parts. The police might also work with the NCIB Vehicle Theft Task Force.

How Can You Protect Your Car From Theft?

You can protect your car from theft by installing a car alarm and GPS tracking. A car alarm will be triggered whenever someone tampers with the vehicle, warning you and everyone around the car. It will also cause the thief to get alarmed and leave.

You should also get a GPS tracking system and connect it to your phone. This would allow you to track the movement of your car so that the thief does not get away. Ensure that all valuables are kept away from your car, as many thieves scout the area and look for a car that has valuables inside.

Park your car in a well-lit area and close all the doors and windows. Parts like the catalytic converter should also be protected.

What Happens if Your Car Is Stolen And Never Found?

If your car is stolen and never found, you will receive a payout from your insurer. The insurance company will wait for 30 days before deciding that the car is gone for good. Then, they would give you the fair market value of your car.

Stolen And Never Found ~ Ran When Parked

With the payout, you can purchase a new car. But since it is the fair market value of your car, you might be limited to buying a used car, or you would have to get a car loan. If the loan on the car had not been paid off yet, the insurer would have to pay the lender.

What Happens if You Buy a Stolen Car?

If you buy a stolen car, you should inform the police as soon as possible. The police will need the vehicle registration number, the make and model of the car, and your contact. You can check if it is flagged on the NCIB VINCheck database to see if it is stolen.

The police will carry out an investigation to find the rightful owner. If the owner is found, the vendor or seller will be taken to court. You might get a refund from the seller, or if you paid with a credit card, file a claim with the credit card company.


Our article on ‘What happens when your car is stolen then found?’ lets you know how you can handle getting a stolen-recovered car back.

Here’s a rundown of our article:

  • If your car is stolen and then found, the police will register it, open an investigation, keep it in the impound lot, and contact the registered owner.
  • If the car is found, but you have gotten the insurance payout, the car will be owned by the insurance company.
  • If the car is found in the middle of your claims, the insurer will only pay you for damages.

If your car is stolen, contact the police immediately, as they have a better chance of finding it if you report it within the first 24 hours. Also, consider getting car insurance quotes so you will be protected from theft.


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