D. Gilson is a writer and author of essays, poetry, and scholarship that explore the relationship between popular culture, literature, sexuality, and memoir. His latest book is Jesus Freak, with Will Stockton, part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series. His other books include I Will Say This Exactly One Time and Crush. His first chapbook, Catch & Release, won the 2012 Robin Becker Prize from Seve...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer

UPDATED: Jan 18, 2021

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Burglary in terms of automobiles is simply the act of someone breaking into a car and taking valuables from it. While admittedly not in the same league as auto theft in terms of monetary value, millions of cars are burglarized every year in the United States, with thousands such events occurring every day. Vehicle burglary can happen to you at any time and in almost any location.

Theft of items that are a part of your car will normally be covered – items such as a car stereo system, wheels and tires and the like would be covered. But in most cases, theft of personal property is not covered by your car insurance policy, although it is quite possible that such coverage is provided to you through either a homeowners or renters insurance policy.

Here are a couple of examples of items that wouldn’t be covered by your auto insurance if your car was burglarized: a laptop computer used for work; a cell phone; a digital camera; a GPS unit you’ve added to your car. Just having an item in your car doesn’t make it a part of the car, and thus, you’ll likely be out for those things, unless they’re covered by another policy.

Car burglary is a crime of opportunity in most cases. A thief will look for open windows or unlocked doors, and in some cases, be tempted by a valuable item left in plain sight and simply break a window to enter the interior of a car. Skilled criminals can break in, grab an item and be gone in a matter of just a few seconds.

Many of these types will work in teams. One person acts as a “lookout” to check for law enforcement or pedestrians, while another breaks into cars and steals valuables. They’re operating with a plan, and they’re especial interested in valuables such as: briefcases, back packs, cash, purses, radios, GPS devices, iPods, laptop computers and wallets.

Here are some tips to help keep your automobile secure:

  • Never leave any valuables in your car that are visible to others. Items that are visible in plain sight are an open invitation to thieves.
  • Always lock your doors and close windows completely.
  • Make an effort to be aware of the surroundings and park in well lit or secure places.
  • Consider adding anti-theft or alarm systems to your car.
  • Take all valuables with you, or place them in the trunk.

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What to do if your car is burglarized:

  •  Remember to stay calm.
  • Call 911 and report the crime to law enforcement immediately. Don’t wait.
  • Don’t touch the car or any contents inside. Preserving the crime scene may help the police find those responsible.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. The burglar(s) may still be in the area.
  • Call or contact your car insurance company as soon as possible.