Category Archives: Car Theft

Quick Tip: Two Things to Remember If Car Is Stolen

While there are a lot of things to remember if your car has been stolen we have two tips from policemen that are top of the list:

1. Know your license plate number. Why? It’s harder to find a ‘blue Honda civic’ than a blue Honda civic license plate number WHN 123.

2. Dents and Dings. Know the unique features on your car (location of dents, cracks, bumper stickers, etc). This helps distinguish your car from others that are the same make, model.

– Susan

Gas Theft On the Rise

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The high gas prices are also linked to rising gas thefts. More and more people are driving without paying after filling up or are resorting to siphoning and punching holes in gas tanks to get to gas.

So what can you do? Some suggested tips:

1. Keep an eye on your fuel gauge.

2. Filling up at the pump? Stay with your car while you fill up. Have to run inside to grab something? Lock up your car and close and lock your gas tank flap.

3. Park your car in your garage (if you have one) and be sure to lock the entry doors and windows.

4. Can’t park in a garage? Park in a well-lit area and park with the gas flap facing the curb.

5. Gas thieves target more than cars – keep an eye on your lawnmower and extra gas cans.

6. If you do suspect a gas theft, be sure to call the police immediately. Be safe, be smart!

Podcast: Parking Lot Safety Tips, Part 2

Here’s the second part of our car safety tips podcast with Greg Reston, Director of Asset Protection at Heartland Corporate Security in MN (You can listen to the first part here.) He has great stories and tips from his experience as a security expert for several shopping centers and companies across the U.S.

If you’re running errands this weekend, first have a quick listen to his top tips on how to be safe when returning to your car after an errand:

Thanks Greg!

Have a comment or idea for a podcast? Post your feedback in the Comments section below!!

Podcast: Parking Lot Safety Tips

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We spoke with Greg Reston, Director of Asset Protection at Heartland Corporate Security in MN. He has great stories and tips from his experience as a security expert for several shopping centers and companies across the U.S.

If you’re running errands this weekend, first have a quick listen to his top parking lot safety tips:

Thanks Greg! Next week, we’ll post the second part of his interview – how to be safe when returning to your car after an errand.

Have a comment or idea for a podcast? Post your feedback in the Comments section below!!

Top Ten Phone Numbers to Have…Just In Case!

Bloggers Marc and Angel have a list of the top ten phone numbers you should have in your cell phone just in case. You just never know when you might need them!

Also, this brings to mind another blog post from a while back:

Still in need of additional contact lists to have just in case? Print out these handy emergency contact lists to keep a hard copy of your contact numbers – store them near your landlines at home or at work.

Four Professionals Everyone Should Keep on Speed Dial

Productivity and frugality blog, WiseBread, has a great post about the top 6 professionals that you should have in your phone’s contact list…just in case. I’ve narrowed their list down to three and added in one extra professional I think you really should have in case of emergencies:

Attorney: Whether it’s a car accident, medical lawsuit or helping you draw up a will or other important document, everyone will probably need or meet with a lawyer at least once in their lifetime. Before something major happens, do the scouting now:

  • Nolo.com (this is a commercial site but they have good, basic information on how to find a lawyer and understanding fees)

Doctor: Even if it’s just a cold, having a doctor that you can trust can make the world of difference. Build that relationship now before you feel under the weather:

Insurance Agent: Auto, car, life, medical, home owner’s and rental insurance…doesn’t matter what coverage you’ve got, you’ll need a great agent to get the coverage you need and help you get the most out of your claims.

Mechanic: Let’s face it. Someday (could be tomorrow, could be next year), something in your car will break. You’ll need a great mechanic you can trust to get your car back on the road – and fast. Otherwise, you’ll be back in the shop before you know it.

What professional couldn’t you live without? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below! (Thanks, WiseBread!)

After the Collapse, Questions Remain

Pieces of the puzzles are still missing in the investigation of the I35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis. Authorities have asked that anyone who was on or near the bridge at the time of the collapse and has not been formally interviewed to contact the National Transportation Safety Board hotline: 1-866-328-6347. Apparently a kayaker was also reported to be nearby at the time of the collapse and they wish to speak with them as well.

These requests raise a good point. If you witness or a victim of a crime, incident or other cause for investigation, you may be questioned or interviewed by authorities.

Don’t worry. Remember that all they’re after is information. If a law enforcement or government official asks you a few questions, answer them as best you can. Don’t make up something if you’re a bit fuzzy on the details, just try to be as accurate and detailed as possible.

It might be difficult to talk about certain things, especially after traumatic events. Let the official know you are having a hard time and they might be able to help you find support services.

Here are a few scenarios where you’ll be expected to answer a few questions or provide information to law enforcement:

If you are worried about giving out information and you think the officer looks suspicious, remember that you can always ask to see identification. Most officers also have business cards or have a badge number. Write this information and their name down. You can then call the station later to provide them with any additional details you might have initially forgotten.

The Car Has Been Recovered!

This morning, the Minneapolis Police Department called me with the news that the stolen car had been recovered! (For the full story on the stolen car incident, click here.)

We had bets going to see how long it would take to find the car – my mom guessed two weeks, others said three. Turns out it’s exactly four weeks to the day and we did have a chance of it being found: according to the FBI, just over 50% of stolen cars are eventually recovered.

So you’re probably wondering about the condition of the car. The officer said the steering column was damaged (probably to get to the ignition) but other than that, the car is in working order.

What’s next? Well, the car was found in St. Paul, Minneapolis’ city-neighbor, and is currently at their impound lot. We’ll have to pay a fee of about $190-200 just to get the car back (a bit unfair, huh?). Then we’ll have to pay to get it towed to the mechanic, since we can’t drive it. Then who knows what the mechanic might find besides the broken steering column.

This whole incident will probably cost somewhere between $600-1000, not to mention the hours of time we’ve put in making phone calls, filing insurance claims, etc. Chances are we’ll probably junk it (it’s an old car).

So, to save yourself any future trouble (and cash), why not practice some good car theft prevention measures today?

Real-Life Experience: Car Theft

Last week, my boyfriend lent me his car since he was going out of town for the week. I was so excited to have a quick break from the hassle of public transportation. It was great to have a quick way to get to work, blast music through the speakers and feel the wind in my hair…until one morning when I walked out the door to find the car missing!

After a frazzled and panicked reaction, I went back home and used the mighty Internet to find the impound lot’s phone number. But…I didn’t know the license plate number of the car (very important!!!) so I did some calling around his friends and roommates to see if they knew the number (they did, thankfully!). Unfortunately, that license plate number wasn’t on record at the impound lot so I was transferred to another official in order to report a stolen car.

Here are some additional tips I learned from my experience:

Prevention Tips

  • Know the license plate number of your car or the car you’re driving. WHN TIP: Program the number into your cell phone or keep it in your wallet.
  • Park the car on a busy street.
  • Park the car away from bushes or other areas where a thief might hide. (The car was parked next to a huge bush.)

Recovery Tips

  • Check with the impound lot first to see if the car was towed not stolen. (You’ll need to provide them with the license plate number in order to find this out).
  • Retrace your steps. Think of the last place you parked your car and at what time you last saw it. The police will be asking you for this information.
  • Think of all the information you know about the vehicle – make, model, year.
  • I also had to provide the officer with my date of birth along with the driver’s name and his date of birth.
  • Be patient. The car might turn up in a few hours, days, weeks or not at all.

As of today, the car is still missing but I’m remaining hopeful. Check back and hopefully soon I’ll be writing about its return!

Want more information? Head to Be Prepared – Car Theft and Help – Car Theft.

Neat Site: FTC

Education is a key tool to prevent consumer injury, according to the Federal Trade Commission’s web site – this week’s neat site.

The Federal Trade Commission offers hundreds of publications with advice on avoiding scams and rip-offs, as well other consumer tips. Topics range from automobiles and travel to telemarketing and consumer products and services.

The Federal Trade Commission is also the main hub for filing consumer complaints in regards to identity theft. Click here to visit the FTC’s Identity Theft site which offers ID theft prevention and recovery tips.