Now, I’m sure there is a statistic out there that can give you an idea of the chances that you’ll recover your car, but I can tell you that both of the cars that have been stolen from me have been found. One was reported abandoned within the week, and the other (my Chevy Suburban) took a few months, but eventually I got the call from the police telling me the good news and asking if I wanted to press charges.
The police does not actively look for stolen cars, but they do have teams that dedicate themselves to finding stolen cars by keeping a lookout for suspicious activities that may signal that a car on the road is not with their rightful owner and detecting theft patterns. There is some technology that some departments have integrated that scans license plates automatically that can detect stolen vehicles.
However, not all patrol cars are equipped with this and instead rely on the officer to run the plates when there is suspicious activity.
Typically, though, the same thief or groups of thieves are responsible for the thefts in a single area. When they get pulled over, usually they can find master keys, shaved keys, tools, and other items used in theft.
Here’s a story I watched recently. A pretty crazy recovery!
How The Recovery Works
When a car is reported stolen, the police may first go to a suspect who is either someone that they have been keeping an eye on (a repeat thief), or someone who the victim claims may be responsible. The license plate and the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) get entered into a national databank and the police around the county or local area will get a notification. The license plate number also gets entered in the Automated Plate Readers that send out an alert if the plates match that of a stolen vehicle.
Still, the chances of getting your car back get slimmer as the days go on. According to the FBI, 57.08 percent of cars are recovered in the first day and 79% are recovered during the first six days. (Source)
Sadly, this means that after that, the odds get lower and lower.
The Most Stolen Rides
Some of the car models that top the list on the most sought-after by thiefs are the Honda Civic, Ford pickup trucks, Toyota Camrys, and Toyota Accords. If you think that you’re safe because your car is an older model, think again! These cars are less likely to stand out on the road and they’re good for a short crime or drug haul.
Usually these cars get spotted on the road because of visible damage or the driver may seem a bit lost when it comes to using the car with things like the seat not being adjusted properly, breaking unexpectedly or too hard at once, or pressing the gas a little too fast. You know, the typical things we do when we drive a car that’s not our own.
These cars also may have broken windows or door handles, or the people riding the car may be too young. Some experienced officers can also detect things like when a car is evading a patrol car or by backing into parking spaces and removing the front license plates.