The last thing that should be on your mind when you are visiting a new city is having to deal with break-ins. Unfortunately, theft happens and rental cars are an appealing target. That is because thieves know that travellers carry around a lot of cash and valuables with them in their rental cars. They also know that people who are new to an area feel more vulnerable in their surroundings. Fortunately, rental car break-ins are becoming less of a problem today because of improved security. There are more cameras in public spaces, and car parks have better fencing and increased police surveillance. All of these factors combined make it much safer to rent a car, but theft prevention should still be on your mind. It is difficult to know how risky a neighbourhood is, which is why you should consider these safety practices:
- Avoid parking in dimly lit areas like the dark corners in a parking garage
- Only return a rental car after hours to the company’s parking lot
- Do not leave your rental car unattended for too long
- Always remember to lock your doors
- Roll your windows up all the way when leaving the vehicle
- Take valuables with you or, at the least, keep them out of sight like in the trunk
If you are unlucky and happen to experience a rental car break-in, this is what you should do:
Assess and document all damage – If you come back to your car and find a picked lock or broken window, do not touch the car. Instead, write down all of the details you can see of damage and take pictures of the vehicle from every angle. Note anything that is missing and be as specific as possible.
File a report with the police – You might have to go to the station to file a report, or they might send an officer to look at the situation on-site. Take a taxi or public transportation if you must go to the station and leave the rental car where it is. If you are with someone, have them stay with the vehicle. Make sure to contact the police as soon as possible.
Tell the rental car company – They will ask you for the police report number so that they can process their own report. That is why you should always call the police first before the rental car company.
Contact your bank or credit card companies, if applicable – If your debit or credit cards were stolen during the break-in, alert your card issuers immediately.
File an insurance claim – Lastly, you should file a claim with your insurance. If you purchased protection from the rental car company, you should be covered for the vehicle’s damage. If submitting through your personal insurance, car damage should be, but the cost of stolen personal items would likely only be covered through property insurance.