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Oct. 1, 2022

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Your car got broken into. Here’s what to do next if you experience theft in Washington

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Coming outside to see your car window broken and your valuables missing is one of the worst ways to start your day, but what should you do next?

Not only can break-ins cost you money, information or valuables in your car, it can also be expensive to fix your car window, locks or other damaged parts.

Some cars are more easily broken into and stolen than others, including these 10 most commonly stolen cars in Washington.

In Washington state, crimes such as car robberies have had significant increases in recent years, as a robbery took place every 1.5 hours and motor vehicle thefts occurred every 14.9 minutes in 2021, according to The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs Annual Crime Report.

In 2021, there were 5,802 robberies, 42,267 breaking and entering cases, and 166,466 theft offenses took place in Washington state, according to the report.

The top 10 stolen items in Washington were car parts and accessories, money, automobiles, tools, purses, clothes, credit and debit cards, household goods, identity documents and computer hardware and software, the report found.

If your car is broken into

If your car is broken into and items are stolen, ValuePenguin, a Lending Tree finance website offers advice on what to do:

  • Document the damage by taking photos before touching or moving anything.
  • Make a list of stolen items.
  • File a police report. Your insurance company will typically require a police report to be filed in order to process any claim you file. You may have to do this by phone or in person.
  • Contact your insurance companyor take your car to an auto body shop to get an estimate of what repairing your vehicle will cost.

How to file a police report

How to file a police report varies depending on the police department. Before you file, ValuePenguin recommends having these ready:

  • Your driver’s license.
  • Your vehicle’s registration information.
  • Insurance card or policy declaration page.
  • Photographs of the damage.
  • A list of any property that was stolen.
  • The approximate time and date of the break-in, theft or vandalism.

Some police departments allow police reports to be filed online, but those experiencing an active break-in can call 911.

How to prevent car break-ins

The Seattle Police Department has a few tips to help prevent your car from being broken into:

  • Do not leave any valuables in plain sight and remove any items that someone would break in to steal.
  • Disable your internal trunk release.
  • Never leave a garage door remote in your vehicle.
  • Make sure your surroundings are safe before leaving or returning to your car.
  • Park in a well-lit, open space.
  • Make sure your audible car alarm is working.

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