What to Do If Someone Steals Your Car in Singapore
Car thefts in Singapore might not be common, but they can still happen. In May 2018, a man was arrested for a series of car thefts in eastern Singapore.
In order to understand how you can prevent yourself from being a victim, it’s crucial to be aware of the ways in which cars can be stolen. Here are some ways car thefts can occur:
- Car taken on joyrides when valet services are engaged
- Car stolen when valet services are engaged
- You’ve left your keys inside the car and someone has driven it away
- Forced entry into car through windows, doors or keyhole
- Hacking into cars by getting around their security systems, e.g. investing in technology that can wirelessly hack into cars
Nonetheless, try not to jump to conclusions immediately when you are unable to find your car. It is natural to panic but try to stay calm and eliminate all other possibilities.
Are you certain you have parked your car where you checked? Could it have been towed by the authorities? You may wish to call the LTA Customer Service Line at 1800-2255-582 to enquire about your vehicle first.
Once you have confirmed that your car has been stolen, you may then proceed to take the following actions:
What Should I Do Immediately After Realising My Car has been Stolen?
The first thing to do after you have realised and confirmed that your car is stolen is to report the matter to the police. Reporting the car theft ensures protection for yourself in the case that your car was stolen and used to commit any crime.
You may report to the police by:
- Calling 999
- Making a police report in person
- Making a police report online
In cases where police assistance is needed urgently, particularly if you happen to witness your car being driven away in front of you, call 999 immediately and provide all details and information on the theft.
You will not be provided with a recorded transcript of the phone call, but you will be given an incident number. Take the incident number and head down to the police station to file a report so you can get a written record for your insurance claim and/or other necessary administrative matters.
Alternatively, if you are certain that police action is not immediately necessary, you may also report the theft via the police e-service (see below).
In the case that your Singapore-registered vehicle was stolen overseas, make the police report overseas, and then again in Singapore.
Making a police report in person
Make the report at a Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC) or Neighbourhood Police Posts (NPP). The officer-in-charge will inform you of the preliminary status of your case within 7 working days and keep you updated on new developments.
Making an online police report
As your car has been stolen, i.e. lost through crime, do not use the “Lost Property” e-service on the police website. Rather, you should ensure that you are making a Police Report.
Below is a list of required details for the online report:
- Your SingPass, for accessing the Police Report E-service
- A valid email address
- Your car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which you can probably find from your insurance policy or vehicle registration card if you do not already have it recorded
Once logged in to the E-service, follow the instructions on screen and review the contents before confirming submission. Filling in the application will take approximately 10 minutes.
You will be assigned a Police Officer to your case within 7 days of submission and they will advise you further.
What If I’ve Lost Any Valuables in the Car Theft?
If the lost items are bank cards
If you have lost your bank cards, contact the relevant banks to cancel the cards to prevent fraudulent usage.
If the lost item is a cash card
Unfortunately, if you have lost your cash card, it is good as gone and cannot be deactivated. Nevertheless, if you have purchased an insurance that covers a one-time claim for your cash card in case of theft, you may choose to make the claim.
Must I make a separate police report?
There is no need to make a separate police report for loss of personal items (e.g. mobile phone, laptop, watch and camera) as they would have already been made known to the police in the police report for car theft.
However, in the case where the Unique Serial Number, brand or model of the lost item(s) were not made known in the police report for car theft, then you may use the E-service to “Furnish Details of Stolen or Lost Property”.
What Do I Do After Filing the Police Report?
Applying for car insurance claim
Upon completing the police report, you should notify your insurance company at once. You might be advised to make a claim.
To bring a claim, it is best to check the terms of your car insurance policy as the amount you can claim may vary depending on the extent of coverage of your policy.
Generally, if you have comprehensive insurance (insurance with higher coverage than the bare minimum), you should be covered for theft. Go through your policy papers or contact your insurance company and look out for or clarify the following:
- Under what circumstances will you be compensated for the loss and what is needed by the insurance company to prove such circumstances
- Whether they would pay for your car loan (if any) or other financial agreements you are in for your car, and if they will, would it begin from the time of loss
- Whether they would pay for loss of belongings in the car
Your insurance company may take up to half a year to process your claim and decide whether to compensate you for the loss of your car. Thus, it is advised that you should do it as soon as possible even though there is a possibility of the car being found.
The result of your claim depends on several factors such as:
- The circumstances in which the loss took place
- Police reports made
- Any ongoing police investigations
- The scale of the insurer’s own investigations
Payment of car loans (If any)
Depending on the type of insurance coverage you have and how you are financing your car, your options are different when it comes to dealing with unsettled finances.
If my car is under a hire-purchase agreement
If your car is under a hire-purchase agreement, your insurance may cover the remaining payment you have to make to the finance company. Payment in this situation is likely made directly to the legal owners of the car, i.e the finance company.
If I took out a loan for my car
Things could be slightly different if you took a car loan from a bank or financial institution. Check and confirm with your lender what are the necessary actions you have to take.
Car loans are generally not transferable to insurance companies, so it is likely that you have to continue paying your loans yourself.
Early settlement penalty
In addition, you should also clarify with your lender regarding any early settlement penalties. This is because if your insurance claim is successful, car ownership will be transferred to the insurance company once you are compensated.
However, car ownership cannot be transferred without fully paying off the loan.
Hence, you might be required to settle your car loans earlier and financial institutions usually charge for early settlement to cover the administrative costs and commission incurred by them.
Can I Still Claim Insurance If My Car was Stolen and/or Damaged While Engaged with a Valet Service?
If my car was stolen while engaged with a valet service
One thing to note is that if your car is stolen while engaged with a valet service, either by the valet themselves or others, your insurance company is unlikely to compensate you.
If my car was damaged by a valet who took the car on a joyride
If the valet has taken your car on a joyride and damaged it in the process, depending on the type of insurance you have, you may not be compensated for the cost of repair as well.
In particular, check the terms of your insurance policy on whether you will receive compensation if unnamed or unauthorised drivers (other than you, the insured) drive the car. If your insurance does not cover unnamed or unauthorised drivers, you will not be compensated.
It is also advised that you go to the valet company and check with them their policy on stolen cars through their service as reputable valet services may have coverage for such incidents.
However, by and large, it is still likely that they are not liable as valet services are not legally required to cover their clients for car theft.
Repossession of Car
How will I know if my car has been found?
There are a few ways in which you might recover possession of your car.
- The police has informed you
- You’ve recovered it yourself or through the help of other people, for example through finding your car being sold on online platforms
What should I do immediately after my car has been found?
If you found the car yourself or through the help of other people, do ensure you inform the police at once.
Following that, inform your insurance company about it immediately and seek advice on what will happen to your ongoing insurance claim.
There are two possible scenarios:
- In the case that your insurance claim has already been finalised and you have gotten compensation for the car theft, the vehicle belongs to your insurance company. As you no longer have legal ownership over the car, you would not be able to drive it anymore.
- If your insurance claim has not been settled, you most likely will be able to withdraw your insurance claim and reclaim possession of your car.
Permanent Loss of Car
De-registering my car
Should you be unfortunate enough to never see your car again, ensure that you de-register it to be entitled to a partial Additional Registration Fee (PARF) and Certificate of Entitlement (COE) rebate.
You will be able to de-register your car if the police classifies your car as stolen and after a lapse of more than 3 months from the date of the police report.
To de-register your car as a result of it being stolen, you may submit the following documents:
- Completed application form (D03) for vehicle lost through theft
- Original Singapore Police Report and Original Police Report from the country where the vehicle was lost (if vehicle was stolen outside Singapore)
- Letters of Undertaking for:
- Identification documents of vehicle owner,
to LTA’s Customer Service Centre, Level 1, 10 Sin Ming Drive, Singapore 575701, between 8am and 4.30pm on Mondays to Fridays and 8am to 12pm on Saturdays.
In the event that you manage to recover your car after de-registering it, you can re-license the vehicle within 7 days from its recovery, provided that it is recovered within 3 years from the police report date (not the de-registration date).
If you do not re-license your recovered car within this 7-day period, you will be required to dispose of it.
Tips to Prevent Yourself From Being a Victim of Car Theft
You can prevent yourself from being a victim of car theft by generally being alert to your surroundings and installing protective devices in your car to deter thieves.
- Don’t leave vehicles in dimly lit, unattended areas.
- Always lock all car doors and wind up all windows.
- Be alert to your surroundings and look out for any suspicious persons nearby. Do not confront them but inform the police immediately. Also, take note of any characteristics they have that could help with identifying them.
- Never leave your car keys in the car when no one is inside.
- Adding various locks that serve as additional protection such as:
- Clutch lock
- Brake lock
- Gear lock
- Steering wheel lock
- Install a Vehicle Immobiliser (a device that prevents the engine from running by methods that are not using an authorised car key)
- Install an anti-theft alarm system. The alarm is triggered when sensors in and around the car detect movements and impact.
- If you are engaging a valet, go for reputable valet companies. In particular, check their existing security measures to prevent car theft and how they are accountable to their clients.
Nonetheless, if a thief wants to steal your car, they will always come up with the means to do so. Here are the things that would help in recovering your car:
- Installing a GPS system so that you can track your car’s location
- Installing an in-car camera so it can capture happenings in the vicinity of the car, especially in cases where you leave your car to a valet service
- As a last resort, you can always put up what you know on social media and engage the help of fellow netizens.
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