One of the worst things that can happen to a car owner is to have his or her car stolen. It’s such a scary thought to go back to your parked car with keys in hand, only to find out that your vehicle is no longer where you left it. Beyond the confusion and despair that you may feel, if your car gets stolen by thieves, you need to stay calm and think clearly. Here is what to do when your car is stolen:

Your first response

According to statistics, 80 percent of vehicle thefts in the Philippines occur in Manila, with most of the number concentrated in what has been dubbed as ‘the car theft capital of the Philippines,’ Quezon City. This is a worrisome number if you live in the Metro, but before you entertain the idea that your car has been stolen, you need to think of other reasons why your car is no longer in its place. Could it be possible that you parked illegally? Perhaps your car was towed. You don’t want to go through the embarrassment of reporting your car as stolen only to find out it wasn’t after all. Once you have eliminated other possibilities and have come to the frightening conclusion that your car has indeed been stolen, you need to take the guessing out of the situation and perform the following steps.

Ask people nearby if they saw something out of the ordinary

Depending on where you parked your car, there may be a good chance that someone saw it leave. Ask people around if they saw something, then write down what they may have seen. Don’t leave any detail out, because you never know what could be useful in the police investigation that ensues. Get their contact information in case you need it in the future. Check as well if there are any closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the vicinity, as the theft of your car may have been recorded.

Call the police

If you’re sure that your vehicle hasn’t been towed or that you didn’t simply misplace your car, call the police. The sooner you have the police looking for it, the bigger your chances of getting your car back. You’ll need to provide the police a detailed description of your vehicle, as well as the circumstances surrounding its theft. It can be helpful to include your vehicle’s make, model, color, year, vehicle identification number (VIN), license plate number, and the information you obtained from the potential witnesses you asked.

Check your GPS tracking system

Nowadays, it’s so easy to keep track of a vehicle’s location using tracking systems that can help authorities find your stolen car. Remora GPS Solutions and Manila GPS Trackers for instance, can help you locate your car by using GPS technology. The latter provider even allows you to disable your engine remotely. If your vehicle has any type of system that may help locate it, let the authorities know about it, as it can be extremely useful to their investigation. Don’t try to locate your car on your own. You never know who took your car or what they’re capable of, and it can be dangerous for you to confront them.

Call your insurance company

After you’ve filed a police report, your next call should be to your car insurance company. You need to let your provider know that your vehicle has been stolen. This is an extremely important step, since informing them can help protect you from legal problems later on in case the thieves plan to use your car to inflict damage or harm on others. It’s not unusual for car thieves to use the cars they stole as getaway vehicles for other crimes. Be sure to let your provider know about any personal belongings that were in the car at the time of the theft.

Check if your insurance policy includes a waiting clause that gives the police time to recover your car before any action is taken. If you have a fully comprehensive coverage, your insurance company may pay you the full amount for which your vehicle is covered. If your car is under a lease or finance agreement, you should also call the lender that you used to purchase the vehicle. Both your insurance and finance company will likely require a copy of the police report, so be sure to obtain these from the police.

Blow a fuse

Now that you’ve taken care of the most time-sensitive steps, give yourself some time to let the unfortunate event sink in. Getting your car stolen is a total drag, after all. It’s okay to freak out a bit—a lot of people need to blow off some steam to get back to being calm and focused, which you need to be. Once you’re finished, you need to go back to work.

Inform your contacts

Did you leave your wallet and mobile device in the car? Then you will need to notify your service providers—including your bank, credit card, and cellphone company—so that they may cancel your account and give you another one. If the keys to your home were in the car as well, you should look to have your locks replaced at the earliest possible time, especially if you left any documents that contain your home address in the vehicle.

Start thinking of an ideal replacement

Your car could be integral to your lifestyle, and losing it to theft can severely cripple your daily functions. Even if you’re holding out hope that your car will be returned to you, it’s will be smart to start thinking of a replacement early in case your car never makes it home again. Hopefully, your car was so crappy that you’ll be relieved to pass on its problems to a good-for-nothing car thief. And once you find a replacement, make sure to make your new car secure so you won't have to go through this ordeal again.