How To Determine Whether Your Car Was Towed Or Stolen From A Parking Lot

Every day, more than 400 cars are stolen in Canada. When your car goes missing from a parking lot, however, you might not be the victim of a crime. Follow these tips to determine whether your car was towed or stolen.

Consider the Odds

Some cars are more appealing to thieves than others. In Canada, the most frequently stolen car in 2013 was the 2000 Honda Civic, followed by Chevrolet and Cadillac SUVs. If you own one of these vehicles, theft becomes more likely.

Keep in mind, however, that other factors increase the likelihood that your car has been stolen from a parking lot, such as:

  • Unlocked doors or keys in the ignition
  • Valuable items visible through the windows (such as electronics left on the back seat)
  • Cars parked in remote or unlit areas

Look for Signs

Many businesses contract with tow companies to remove vehicles that are parked illegally or that violate the parking lot rules. For example, business owners don't want customers parking in their lot, then walking to a nearby business.

If this is the case, you will see a sign posted by the tow company. It should offer the tow company's name, phone number, and address so you can find your car when it is towed from that lot.

Look for other signs you might have missed while parking. For instance, did you accidentally park in a space reserved for handicapped visitors? If so, your car might have been towed at the request of a police officer.

Ask the Business Owner

Whether you were parked in an apartment complex, strip center, or shopping mall, visit the business nearest to the location of your parked car. Ask them if they have received any reports of towed vehicles in the lot.

If they contract with a towing service, they might have been notified of the tow. Alternatively, if they have a contract with a towing service, they can provide contact information even if it is not posted outside.

Call the Police

Even if your car was towed rather than stolen, you still need to call the police. In Ottawa, for example, the police must be notified when a car is towed so they do not take a stolen vehicle report and waste time looking for it.

When you call the police, they should be able to tell you the contact information for the lot to which your vehicle has been towed. You can then make arrangements to pick up your vehicle and pay the fees associated with the tow and storage.

If they do not have a record of your vehicle being towed, you should immediately file a theft report. Provide the police with as much information about your vehicle as possible, including:

  • Make
  • Model
  • Color
  • Distinguishing characteristics (e.g. accident damage, custom rims)
  • Location at the time of theft
  • Registration or VIN (vehicle identification number)

You should also notify your insurance company of the theft, especially if you have full coverage on the car. Your insurance agent will want a copy of the police report to process your claim.

Retrieve Your Vehicle

Whether your car was towed or stolen, you will need to retrieve your vehicle if it is later found. In the case of a towed vehicle, you will have to visit the tow yard or lot. When your car is found after a theft, you might have to pick it up from the police impound lot.

To protect your vehicle, consider having it towed to a trusted mechanic for an evaluation. A car that is towed or stolen could have suffered damage during transportation, so an inspection protects your investment in the vehicle.

It is stressful to have your car towed or stolen, but it is important to take a methodical approach to get your vehicle back. The faster you determine what happened, the easier it will be to locate your vehicle.

For more information, contact AC Towing or a similar company.