We live in a nice, middle class, suburban town. While it is by no means perfect, we don't usually worry too much about crime. Yes, we lock our cars when we go into stores, but if you were to forget, you could be pretty confident that it would be just fine.

But lately, we've been having a run of car break ins that are frustrating almost everyone in town. They're happening in almost every neighborhood in town, and so far, the only unifying target is that the cars are parked outdoors. Locked or unlocked, high end or low end, it's been happening, and people are getting incredibly frustrated. Sometimes, there will be no visible damage and nothing has been taken, but waking up to see your car in the driveway with all four doors open makes you feel violated. Not only that, but people aren't always sure what to do. Who do you call first? Should you touch anything?

Here's a list of what to do if you are a victim of a car break in.

1.      Call the police. You need a police report and record of the break in for insurance purposes, if nothing else. Call, explain the situation, and get a copy of the report.

2.     Protect your identity. If your phone or wallet were in the car, contact your cell carrier and card companies to report a theft. They'll help you make sure that no one can use your card numbers for cyber theft, identity theft, or even just making creepy phone calls.

3.      Take photos. Get photos of what you found, and any damage you see.

4.      Make a list of everything that was stolen. Do this as soon as you can, because both the police and the insurance companies will need this.

5.      Call your insurance company. Damage to the car should be covered under your car insurance, and lost property will typically be covered under your homeowner's policy (possibly your car insurance, but if not, homeowner's will cover it). Ask for a claim number and instructions on how to file a claim.

6.      Get your car repaired. Glass, locks, and anything else that was damaged.

7.       - Find proof of ownership for your goods. This can be tricky, but will make things go much more smoothly. Receipts, credit card bills, even photos of the items that were stolen.

8.       Start replacing items. You can do this in a couple of different ways, depending on your insurance. "Replacement cost coverage" will cover the actual receipt price for what you replace, as long as it is "like kind and quality". Often it's easier to replace first and then submit receipts for reimbursement. "Actual cash value" will give you the garage sale price, and you can use that to replace the items, then submit receipts to get paid the difference. Your insurance agent can help walk you through this process.

9.      Create a spreadsheet of stolen items. List everything that was stolen, the original purchase price, the date of original purchase, the date you replaced it, and the cost of the replacement. Keep all the receipts.

It's violating, but you can recover!


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