In recent times, crime has increased due to financial struggle and overall crime increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic and with the delivery boom, people who are trying to work hard to get by are at risk of having their vehicle stolen while on the job!
You have seen it on the news where a vehicle is stolen with a kid inside or something of high importance make the news and the sad part is, this isn't even isolated incidents, this is just in cases where those people also when to mass media sources as well as law enforcement.
Now if that is not an issue enough, most of these gig economy platforms don't really have your best interest when it comes to helping you out, in fact they usually just tell you how to file a claim with them and typically that goes nowhere.
Not to mention if you decided to file an insurance claim, you even mention one of these apps like Doordash, Uber, Lyft, etc. you may not even be covered at all, car stolen and these companies that claim to be "on your side" or "in good hands" do nothing to help you.
So in order to prepare you properly against car theft, I want to talk to you about what to do before anything happens to your car (heaven forbid), how to handle the law enforcement side of things, and if, and hopefully when your car is found, how to handle that.
My name is Joseph Mandracchia, I have been working full-time with the gig economy since 2018 and have completed over 9200 orders and deliveries across several different platforms and pay models, as well as other forms of income.
I even went through an incident where my car was stolen out of the state in which it was registered and licensed. So I know where the stress and hardship can come from in this dilemma.
It is my hope to impart some of my knowledge and experience unto you to help you make the most money in your side hustle and help you on your journey to achieve financial independence so you can choose to live your life in anyway you would find valuable to you.
Disclaimer: I am not a financial, tax or legal advisor of any kind. I am not giving you financial, tax or legal advice. I am simply expressing what I have done to overcome in this area and hoping you can find a take away for yourself within this article.
Why Should I Know More About Car Theft?
As a gig worker, it is important now more than ever to be able to protect yourself and your property, especially if it is vital for you to make money. There is also a rise in car theft related crime consistent with the delivery boom that we have been experiencing.
Not just in car theft either, people being robbed upon drop off, murders and even additional crimes such as kidnaping as we have heard with the child that was in the car as a Doordash Driver was simply running into a restaurant to pick up someone's order.
Before Your Car Gets Stolen
Now I know that most people who read this are probably reading this because they have a stolen vehicle themselves and I am so sorry that happened. Although, I hope this information helps you and are able to get your vehicle back safely and undamaged.
For those of you who haven't had this issue yet and/or would like to know what is best for you in the future, let's talk about what is the best ways of being ready in the event that your car is stolen.
Important Information to Document
When it comes to car theft, you would think that the first thing you need to do is call 911, tell them about your stolen vehicle and they can then begin the search for your car.
Well, that is kind of true but for the most part, they need more specific information that what bumper stickers you have on the back of your car. Although, that does help.
Law enforcement requires you to have the make, model and year of your vehicle, color of the vehicle as well as either the plate number and state where your vehicle is from and/or the VIN number (Vehicle Identification Number).
After that you can add what identifying markers are on your vehicle (bumper sticker, damage on exterior of the vehicle, personal property inside the vehicle etc.)
What would be the most efficient for you is to keep all this information in a folder in your photos, or in your note section of your phone so that way you know what is right.
Equip Your Vehicle
While Law Enforcement is incredibly efficient at being able to find vehicles without proper equipment, everything that can help is welcome. Somethings will require you to keep on your person and some will need to be installed into your vehicle.
With that said, let's talk about some things you will want to consider investing into for you and your vehicles safety.
Ignition Kill Switch
An ignition kill switch will be an effective tool to help demobilize your vehicle in the event that your car is in the hands of someone who had stolen your vehicle, make sure your kid isn't doing something they aren't supposed to do, or whatever reason your car isn't in your possession.
This way, regardless of when the individual decides to hotwire, jumpstart, or do anything to your car you don't want them to do to your vehicle, while the switch is activated, they won't be able to do anything.
Now, newer vehicles with an OnStar system have this in place already for you and you can simply call them and have it taken care of.
With older cars however, especially used for those of us driving with the gig economy apps such as Uber, Doordash, Instacart, etc. it will have to be bought separately and installed for you.
GPS Tracking System
If it doesn't already come with the kill switch, you will also need to have a GPS tracking system in your car. This is especially helpful for me, because I can identify where my car is in the event of a theft or... when I forgot where I parked.
Most good tracking systems will actually have a corresponding mobile app and will actually comes with the ignition kill switch so you can track what's happening with your car from the convenience of your phone.
This and the kill switch is going to be vital for you because it will also help reduce the cost of your insurance rate, depending on which company you use.
Install a Car Alarm
Now I know most modern cars actually have a car alarm installed on their vehicle already but that is not what I mean with this, because let's be honest, we almost always ignore these kinds of alarms.
How many times have you hear a fire alarm go off in a building and almost always gets ignored and people still getting those reports in by end of day because they got deadlines to hit?
Now what I am suggesting is an alarm that works with a phone app and sends an alert directly to your phone though a mobile app. So you get an alert to your phone the moment someone tries something funny with your car.
This is more of a before you end up in any robbery situation but it is important to discuss, and that's the importance of having personal protection available to you in the event that you have your car jacked or someone threatens your safety.
Now this is not a one size fits all answer and you will need to do some research on your state to what is and isn't allowed on your person or concealed on your person. However, it is something to consider especially with all of the unknown areas you are driving to.
While it is unlikely that something can happen to you in some areas, it can be very likely in others, and relying on law enforcement to be there for you in seconds is unrealistic. Calling 911 is only going to be possible when you are actually safe to make that call.
However, leaving personal protection in your vehicle is not going to make sense either because they will only stealing your weapon along with your car.
Which is why I would not consider a gun of any kind, because if I have to keep it on my person I would not be allowed in a good amount of restaurants.
So I would recommend a pepper spray, stun gun/taser or some other small item that can be carried on your person. Just keep in mind that this item would be for self defense purposes only and acquire all permits that you may or may not need.
Martial Arts or Self Defense Training
So when it comes to self defense in any case, if you don't know what you are doing to defend yourself as far as the most effective method, you might as well consider yourself screwed.
However, martial arts isn't something as simple as what you see in the movies or something you can equip yourself with like some of the items above. So building the skillsets such as being able to defend yourself is going to be key in this case.
One of the things that drew me to being an independent contractor was the idea that I am relying on myself and I have the independence and freedom that I desire. However, how can you be independent if you cannot handle yourself in high pressure situations.
Not to mention that learning a martial art will be great motivation for maintaining a physically fit form as well as your mental and emotional health as well.
That being said, not all martial arts are created equal and you should definitely look into what martial arts would be best for your body type and size, as well as do a time budget to see what you can actually make time for.
For me, I needed to find a martial arts course that wasn't super time consuming and didn't require me to have the most fit body type in comparison to others so I went with Krav Maga, which borrows heavily from karate, boxing, wrestling, and jiu-jitsu.
It also incorporates reflexes and reactions, and can be mastered on a basic level against attackers with or without a weapon in a short period of time, roughly 6 months depending on how serious you are taking it.
Although another option that would be suitable is Keysi, which is also used by Christen Bale to play the role of Batman. Which I am not going to lie, the nerd in me wants to learn this just to drive a black car and be the Batman, delivering other peoples food.
Instructors for Keysi will put a heavy emphasis on body, mind and emotions in order to be able to master this art though so if you can work past that kind of talk, you will be great with this.
If you are of shorter stature, you might want to consider Wing Chun, a martial art that is relatively easy to learn and is more focused on precise strikes to particular points in the body while expending the least amount of energy.
You would be trained to choose the correct instinctively without thinking about every individual move, and is great for coordination. This is the martial art demonstrated in the hit movie series "Ip Man" by Bruce Lee.
Principle in Learning Martial Arts
No matter which martial art you choose, just make sure you are doing this to learn a skill as opposed to trying to pass a test while learning the necessary skills otherwise it will not be of any value to you.
How many times I have seen people did something simply to pass a test instead of learning a skill and it ends up being a waste of time, energy and resources in real life situations. Remember you are there to learn to defend yourself, not get a belt or some status.
Now let's talk about some things that can prevent your car from being stolen in the first place. Because there are quite a number of things that us gig workers tend to do that lead to us being more vulnerable to potentially having our vehicles stolen.
Some of this is within our control and some you have to be even more aware of your surroundings for, but either way it is important to know what these things are because whether it is a good reason or not, it can lead to endangering your vehicle.
Be Picky on Where You Drive
Let's be honest, some areas are more prone to crime than others. They are the places that you know is got a bad vibe and has a large amount of crime corresponding to it, and will do more harm than good to spend too much time there.
Whether it is bad for tips, ratings or your overall well being driving in a bad area where the crime rate is high is likely to put you in a position to get your car stolen or worse.
Not to mention you would probably not make as much money if you drive in an area where no one wants to tip.
Turn Off Your Car Before a Pick-Up
One of the most vulnerable positions I see people leave their cars in is the car in front of the restaurant running with your hazards on. It's become like a smoke signal or a big bright flashing sign of "please steal my car".
So make sure you park the car in a spot, if possible, turn off all lights and engines and take your keys with you inside. If it isn't possible to park in a spot, at least make sure you keep a good eye on it while picking up the order out the window or through the door.
Talk to the Valet Guy
If you are in an area where parking is not really possible without paying for it, you might want to have a chat with the valet guy. While you shouldn't feel a need to pay them to park your car, you should ask them where you can park so it is not in their way.
If they are decent people, they would appreciate the courtesy of you respecting their job just as much as you would want respect for yours.
They will have an understanding that you are only there to run into the restaurant grab the food and run out. That way you can leave your car near the front unattended and have a "bodyguard" for your vehicle against thieves and in some cases parking tickets.
If Your Car is Stolen
So most people reading this are likely in a situation where their car is stolen and are very upset and angry about what happened, and to those people I am so sorry you are going through that and I really hope you find your car again soon.
With that being said, let's talk about what you need to do and let's start with CALM DOWN! I know this is a very frustrating situation and you are going through a rollercoaster of emotions, and I know that because I have been there.
You are going to need to call 911 to have law enforcement put out a BOLO on your car and you won't be able to do that if you are in a situation where your emotions are all over the place, so keep calm and let's take some steps to getting your car back.
You good? Great.
Let's talk about 911, you will need to find out the address to where you are because just saying "Mcdonald's in Lighthouse Point" isn't going to cut it. Yes, I know it is ridiculous but God forbid we have people who are experienced working the 911 line.
When the cops come and you explain where your vehicle was and the full situation, you give them the color, make, model year, model, plate number and/or VIN number on your car and then the police will put out an APB on your vehicle.
An APB (All-Points Bulletin) is an important message that is put out through law enforcement communities and systems about an item of interest, which officers may search for. Some communities refer it to as a BOLO (Be On the Look-Out).
Make sure to also report any items of value that were in the vehicle, such as personal items, business equipment or anything of significant value.
Before Your Car is Found
After you make the report to the police, and you didn't do this already, you will have to make the formal report to your insurance company. If you don't have rideshare insurance, try to avoid mentioning that you were on a delivery or you may not be covered.
Also let them know about any items of significant value (personal or business), any repairs or maintenance you had on your vehicle during that time, and anything else that can add value to your claim.
Don't mention anything that can be harmful to your case such as careless actions or damage on your vehicle that was there before you made this claim.
If you do, then you will want to also rent a car so it doesn't affect your income too much. If you filed with your insurance company, you should be covered for that rental.
Make sure you take down the phone number of the claim officer that will be handling your case so you can get in touch with them for whatever reason. Then all you have to do is be patient and wait for law enforcement to find your vehicle.
Finding Your Vehicle
Now here is some good news for you, the chances of your stolen car being found is relatively high. About 59% of stolen vehicles in the U.S. are recovered. Sooner the better of course, because the highest chance of vehicle recovery is within the first 72 hours.
This is thanks to 2 main factors, the detective put on your case and the police vehicles you see all around you.
The detective will be trained specifically in Auto Theft/Economic Crimes and will work with a unit of investigators to find your stolen vehicle.
The police cars you see around you are actually pretty well equipped with scanners that can identify the standard info of a vehicle, as well as the driving record of the driver, as well as any active warrants or APB's.
So they are not only actively looking for your vehicle, they are passively scanning all cars around them as well. They also have quite the range on them, you can be a few lanes over and they can find out everything about you and your car.
If that isn't enough to find your car, you should contact your insurance company after a week of the car being missing and you will have to take a check and work on getting a new car.
After Your Car is Found
Best case scenario, your car is found and brought to impound. Woohoo, awesome! It doesn't end there though, we still have a lot of work to do.
If law enforcement does find your car, you will be contacted by an officer about it and be notified on which impound lot to pick it up from. Make sure that you tell them to search the vehicle for anything illegal.
The last thing you want to get to the happy ending and BAM, drugs were found in your possession and you are under arrest. If you have them search prior, you will be in the clear for anything the thief left behind.
Some towing companies with impound lots SAY they are open 24 hours a day and have office hours that are something like 9-5 on Monday to Friday and that isn't specified on their sites and they can easily get away with that.
Which to me is false advertising, but apparently because they are a private business, they are free to do that as much as they want to and charge you for it. Now you will have to pay for all their fees as well, but the insurance company will reimburse you for that.
If the message isn't clear enough yet, get insurance for your car. This way the only thing you are left with is the number they wrote on your windshield that seems impossible to take off.
Damage to Your Vehicle
Here comes the rough news, damages on your car... it is kind of a hit or miss, all puns intended. Good chance you will have something damaged here.
While it would be nice to believe that your car can be simply parked someplace and they just picked it up, this would be best case scenario but not the highest likely hood.
According to law enforcement, most cases a stolen vehicle would be used for either a joyride or involved in other crimes which can lead to a lot of damage, depending on how the driver at the time responds.
Sometimes they will drive your car into something, sometimes they are armed and sometimes the officer will pull them over and drive off with your stolen vehicle only to resort to a car chase.
But let's pretend they didn't do that for a second, and they came quietly and you got your car back without any external damage to your vehicle. Most likely, the inside of your car will be ransacked.
When I got my car back, the inside looked like a teenage gamers bedroom without any room to move around in. Papers and garbage were everywhere, the back was sifted through, it smelled of something awful.
The thief left his hat, his bag of food and $4 in my car after I got it back. I lost a pair of gym shorts, a case of sparkling water and my engine light was on.
All damage to my car was cosmetic and honestly, I am fine with the results. I took some pictures just in case, and had drove my car back from the impound lot.
Reporting to Insurance (again)
Now that you found your vehicle, let's talk about what to do when you talk to your insurance company again. Time to get reimbursed for all of the gosh darn charges that you had to pay those impound people and get anything else done you may need.
You will want to call the claims officer that you worked with and get reimbursed for all the things you had shelled out for. For starters, the bill you had to pay at impound.
Then you want to take your car to your mechanic to have the car looked at for any damages that were made during the course of your thief driving your vehicle. Your insurance company will reimburse that as well.
As far as detailing your car goes, it may not be compensated depending on the deductible on your insurance. Most cases detailing your car can be anywhere from $50-$150 and most insurance deductibles are about $200.
If your car is totaled, your insurance company will cut you a check and that should be the end of it.
Your Official Statement
So after all is said and done, law enforcement will want an official statement regarding what happened with your stolen vehicle. The detective assigned to your case will ask you to come into their station and answer a few questions.
Nothing would be to incriminate you or make you at fault, just to build a case against the person who stole your car. Keep in mind, this applies regardless on which you wanted to prosecute either way.
Once a case is in the hands of the prosecutor, it is their case not yours. This would then lead to the question of why they even ask you if you want to prosecute in the first place if your answer doesn't actually matter, and to that, I don't know.
But nevertheless, it is a small step in the process. After this, just clean out the car and get it back to driving shape and you can go back to driving your vehicle.
I really hope that you don't end up reading this because your car is stolen, it is a stressful and emotional experience that I hope no one has to go through. If you are experiencing this, I hope your car gets back to you safely!
Just make sure in your future driving experiences that you follow this guide and you can continue driving and hopefully make as much money as possible, and as safely as possible!
With that said, thank you so much for taking the time to read this article! I hope you found some value in what you read here and will apply this information in your life and success in your side hustle!