This subject in our disaster series is less life threatening than in previous articles, yet is, for most people, a sickening, annoying experience.
This time we look at how to deal with the circumstances of your car being vandalised, broken into or stolen.
Such an experience is all too common these days. Last year there were two million incidents of thefts from, or of cars, and car related vandalism, many joy riders taking a perverted pleasure from trashing the car when they have finished with it.
Unless your car is rare, very expensive, or, in some other way stands out from the crowd, it is unlikely to be the attention of the professional car thief and is much more likely to be broken into by hooligans, driven until it runs out of petrol and then smashed up.
What can you do to prevent any of these things happening?
The truth is, very little to prevent break-ins or vandalism. A good alarm may put off the miscreant but such devices seem to be losing their effectiveness and an immobiliser of some form is a better prevention against the car actually being taken away. These take many forms, from devices that lock the steering wheel in a certain position or the pedals, handbrake or gearshift together, to electronic immobilisers which prevent the car being started. All are very effective and a matter largely of personal choice and budget, although if you own an exotic car your insurers are likely to insist on electronic immobilisation.
So, you've arrived back at your car to find it vandalised or a window broken, the car full of glass and your radio gone. Or, worse you've arrived at where you parked the car and it is no longer there, just a gap.
First, if it's been vandalised or broken into, touch the car as little as possible and call the police. They will take full details on arrival and, for your insurers, you should take their number, the time the incident was reported, the crime number assigned to it and the police station at which they are based.
Report the incident to your insurers as soon as possible.
Before driving the car away, check all around that it is safe to move, clear away as much of the glass as possible and rig a temporary window covering from polythene sheet and sticky tape to get you home. Most windscreen specialists can obtain side or rear windows fairly quickly to effect a permanent repair.
If the car has been stolen, follow the same procedure as above, and then work out how you're going to get home! There is very little you can do other than resign yourself to the fact that you'll probably never see your car again.
Article © Graham Benge 2007