Earlier this week I experienced personal property theft at my home. Some industrious thief crawled under my car, which was parked right outside my apartment, and stole the catalytic converter. As I've learned, this is an all too frequent phenomenon. So after the theft happens, now what?
I'm actually grateful that the theft didn't occur inside my home. There's no worse feeling than the sense of violation when your home has been burgled. Whether inside or outside your home, there are crucial steps to take after a theft occurs:
1. Call the police. Obviously if the theft occurrs inside your home, the first thing you should do is make sure you are safe. If you question your safety at all, get the heck out of there and call the police. In my situation, since the theft occurred sometime overnight, I called the non-emergency police phone number to file a personal property theft report. There's probably nothing that can be done but it's helpful for the police to know that these crimes are happening in my neighborhood.
2. Contact the insurance company. After you've filed your police report, contact your insurance company. It's helpful to file a report first, as the insurance company may ask for the report number. You may have to meet a deductible and, in the case of auto insurance, you may have to take your vehicle to an approved mechanic so it's best to call your insurance agent before taking further steps.
3. Get to know your neighborhood watch. That nosy neighbor may seem annoying but oftentimes that's the one person who may see something untoward going down in your neighborhood. Consider joining your neighborhood watch and band together with your neighbors to help keep each other safe.
4. Protect yourself (and your belongings). It turns out that catalytic converter theft is quite common. The precious metals inside the converter can be sold for hundreds of dollars. I've since learned that there are aftermarket products for securing the converter to the car — of course, it's a little too late for that information. Whether it's your apartment or your car, look into alarms and other theft deterrents that can help keep protect your property.
5. Deal, breathe and move along. It's easy to feel completely violated when you've experienced theft. And it's easy to started muttering a "why me" or two as you're dealing with the consequences of the crime. Once the final piece of paperwork is filed and the damage repaired, make your best effort to get past it. Holding a grudge or feeling personally persecuted by a random act isn't going to help anyone.