What to do if your vehicle is stolen
If your vehicle is stolen you should report it immediately to the police. The police will notify the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) of the details of the theft and any recovery of the vehicle on your behalf.
Call your local police station
Before calling the police to report the theft of your vehicle, make sure you have all the vehicle details to hand ie registration number, make, model and colour of the vehicle. The police will give you a crime reference number which you will need in the event of an insurance claim and claim for a refund of vehicle tax on your tax disc.
Call your insurance company
You will need to contact your insurance company immediately for advice. If your vehicle is not recovered and your insurance company pay out a claim, then you should tell the DVLA the date the payment was accepted and the name and address of the insurance company.You should complete the notification of sale or transfer or V5/3 part of your registration document or the V5C/3 yellow section if you have the new style registration certificate. If your insurance company request the whole of the registration document or certificate you should tell the DVLA in a letter giving the details of the insurance company and the date of the claim.
Refund of vehicle tax
You can apply for a refund on your vehicle tax if your vehicle has been stolen and not recovered. Many vehicles are recovered within a few days of theft, so it is advisable not to make the application until about seven days after the theft. A special application form V33 is available for this purpose. You will need the crime reference number given by the police. Further information on applying for a refund can be found on the link below.
What you should do if you have a personalised registration number
If your stolen vehicle had a personalised registration number, you can normally reclaim it if the vehicle has still not been found after 12 months, provided certain requirements can be met.
- the theft must have been notified to the police and recorded on DVLA records as stolen for not less than 12 months
- at the time of the theft, the vehicle must have had a current MOT test certificate
- at the time of theft, the vehicle must have had a current vehicle tax disc
- the DVLA will require a letter from your insurers confirming they have no objection to the number being re-issued
To apply or for further information, you will need to write quoting your vehicle registration number to the Cherished Transfer Section, DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BW.
Why will the police remove my car when they find it?
Your Vehicle will be removed immediately for the following reasons:
2. It may be used to commit some other crime.
3. Thieves often set fire to vehicles they have stolen. The Fire Service will deal with these fires, but a burnt-out wreck of a car remains a serious danger and a public nuisance.
4. The vehicle may be damaged, even if it does not appear damaged.
5. The vehicle may have been left in a dangerous or obstructing position.
What powers do the police have to remove stolen vehicles?
Section 99 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 permits the police to remove vehicles, which are Illegally, dangerously or obstructively parked or abandoned or broken down, whether or not they have been stolen.
Can anyone else authorise removal of vehicles?
Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).
Why, once they have found my stolen vehicle, will the police not allow me to make my own arrangements for recovery?
No. Police officers who discover a stolen vehicle will normally try to stay with it until it is recovered. This prevents it from being stolen again, vandalised, being used for other criminal purposes or being a danger.
The vehicle may also be dangerous to drive, as thieves may have caused damage to the vehicle. This may not always be obvious, especially when it effects the wheels, tyres, suspension or steering. Therefore, it needs to be expertly examined before it’s driven again.
Police contracted operators will be contacted by the police to collect the vehicle, and they have to meet specified standards as to their speed of attendance, provision of appropriate equipment, training and expertise. This type of service can’t be guaranteed by breakdown clubs.
Please note: police officers do have other duties and may be needed urgently elsewhere. Therefore, they cannot stay with the vehicle indefinitely.
Will I have to pay if the police recover my stolen vehicle and if so, how much?
There are statutory fees you are legally required to pay. The Government sets these in the form of statutory regulations, which they make under section 102(2) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.
The fees can range from £150 to £6000 depending on the circumstances of recovery, and the category of the vehicle.
Storage costs can range from £10 to £35 per day for each storage period (or part) of 24 hours, and in certain circumstances a disposal fee can also be charged ranging from £50 to £150.
No VAT is payable on these fees.
Can the recovery operator charge more than the statutory fees?
Under section 101 of the Road Traffic Regulation act 1984, the police must release any vehicle they have removed on payment of the prescribed fees.
However, if the recovery of the vehicle was particularly difficult or involved specialist equipment) e.g. burnt out vehicle/overturned vehicle, the recovery operator may charge additional justifiable costs. You should notify your insurance company immediately of any such additional charges.
Whom do I have to pay?
The fees are due to the police. You will pay the recovery operator acting as our agent.
How much profit do the police make out of the recovery scheme?
None, the fees are intended to meet the costs of removal and storage.
How soon will I know that the police have recovered my stolen vehicle?
The recovery operator will write within 24 hours of your vehicle being recovered.
Will my insurance always cover the costs I have to meet and will any claim affect my no claims discount?
That depends on the particular insurance policy you have chosen, so it is best to check with your insurer.
What happens if I do not contact the recovery operator?
If the police use their powers to recover a vehicle and there is no contact from its owner or last known keeper within seven days of being notified of its recovery, the police will normally authorise the recovery operator to dispose of it. This can be sale or by scrapping it. Any profit from the sale (after recovery and storage costs) is payable to the owner if claimed within a year. A full audit trail for each vehicle recovered is maintained.
I do not want to reclaim my vehicle, do I still have to pay?
If the police removed your vehicle using their powers under the Road Traffic Regulation Act, they are entitled to recover the statutory fees and you will still have to pay.
If you do not reclaim your vehicle, you lose your claim to its load. The ‘load’ is any items you had in it, on it, or attached to it. The only items from the load that you can always have back without payment are the ‘essentials of life’.
These are defined in law as follows:
2. Financial items such as cash, credit cards, cheque books, pension or benefit books.
3. Keys, such as house or shop keys.
4. Clothing needed immediately, such as a raincoat or jumper.
Before you buy
Procedure for stolen vehicles
Buying a used car checklist