What to Do if Your Car is Stolen? A Complete Guide to Vehicle Recovery in South Africa

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Whether you’re hijacked or leave a shopping centre to find the space where your car was empty, it brings along a whole range of emotions—anger, helplessness, and fear, not to mention a sense of invasion of privacy. According to the crime statistics from February 2023, the number of hijackings was up by 30% since pre-Covid levels. This translates to an average of 63 vehicles stolen everyday in South Africa.

So, considering that you might, at some point, face the situation of having a car stolen, it’s important to know what to do if this happens. Here’s our expert advice on what to do after your car is stolen.


Stolen Cars - vehicle tracking company in South Africa


1. Call Your Tracking Company

Call your vehicle tracking company immediately, if you have one. If you don’t, we recommend you fill out the contact form on our website and we’ll have one of our vehicle recovery service partners get in touch with you to arrange for a tracking device to be fitted to your car. The peace of mind you’ll have is worth every cent, especially in the unfortunate event of a theft.

Getting hold of your tracking company is the best shot you have of recovering your vehicle. Their ground recovery teams often worth with police to give you the best shot at seeing your ride again. Some of them have up to a 90% vehicle recovery rate, so don’t despair just yet if your vehicle has been stolen—you may see it again. In contrast, only around 6% – 10% of vehicles without a vehicle tracking device get recovered.


2. Let the Police Know

The second thing to do is to visit your nearest police station and report your car missing so that they can open up a case. We understand it might be tempting to leave this step out, especially as you wait to see if your car can be recovered, or if you’re unsure if the police will catch the perpetrators, but it’s a vital step. You want to give the police a chance to catch the criminals, allowing them to add your car to their stolen vehicle database. And, if the car is damaged and recovered—or not recovered at all—you’ll need a police case number in order to claim from your insurance company.

When you visit the police station, you’ll need your car’s registration details, which you can find on the registration papers. These include the VIN number, the licence plate number, the make and model of the car, and the year. It’s a good idea to keep your annual licence renewal form in case you don’t have the registration papers handy—you’ll find all the details you need on there.


Vehicle tracker on stolen cars in South Africa


3. Tell Your Insurance Company

There’s very little chance that, even if your car is recovered, there’ll be no damage to it. This is because criminals will often tear up the interior trying to find the tracking device. So odds are, you’ll need to tell your insurer about the theft in order to put in a claim. The sooner this is the done, the sooner they can start the claims process for you, which means the sooner you can get a new car, or get your current car back if it’s recovered but damaged.

For car owners in South Africa, insurance policies are vital due to the high theft rates in the country. If you don’t have insurance on your car yet, you can get a quote for car insurance today at websites like to find the best cover for your budget and needs.

When you make a claim with your insurer, you’ll need to submit the number of the case you opened at the police station, along with some other information. Your insurance provider might ask you for a photograph of your car key—if it’s been stolen, then a photo of the spare key if you have one. They might also ask for an estimate of the mileage of the vehicle and details of any scratches and dents, so they know what’s been damaged in the hijacking and what hasn’t.

Finally, if you still owe money on the car and it’s not recovered, you’ll need to send a settlement letter from your bank to the insurance provider. This is so that the insurer can pay off what you still owe on the car before paying you out the remaining amount.

We do want to add here that if you or a loved one has been hurt during the theft of the vehicle, we recommend you call your insurance company first, before even your vehicle recovery service. Many insurers offer a medical assistance benefit where they can arrange for medical help to arrive at your location in case of an emergency.


Additional Important Information

  • If your vehicle is recovered after you’ve reported it stolen to the police, make sure to get a clearance certificate, otherwise you may face some awkward questions the next time you go through a road block.
  • If it’s recovered after you’ve been paid out by your insurance company, they will keep the car as it’s technically their property now.
  • Don’t expect your insurer to cover the valuables in your car—these need to be insured separately under portable possessions insurance.

Don’t let criminals keep your car if it’s stolen; get a tracking device for peace of mind that your car will most likely be recovered in the event that’s it’s unlawfully taken. Fill out the form on any of our webpages and we’ll make sure a reliable recovery company will get in touch with you to discuss your tracking needs. Try it today!