It happened to your neighbor down the street, it happened to a friend who lives in a nicer area of town, but you never thought it would happen to you. Yet, here you are, standing in front of your car, shattered glass scattered across the seats and the driveway. You are stunned and wonder how this could have happened. The fact of the matter is, that crime knows no zip code. No matter where you live or work, your vehicle is vulnerable to damage as a result of theft or vandalism. It’s an unfortunate reality that these crimes exist, and if it happens to you, you may feel unsafe and violated. So, where do you go from here? How are you going to fix or cover a broken car window? Once you make certain that it’s safe to approach your vehicle, here’s what to do in the aftermath of this kind of crime:
- Document Any Damage
If your windows are smashed, the body is keyed, or other damage is done, be sure to take plenty of pictures to show the police and your insurance company. Avoid touching or moving anything until pictures have been taken.
- Make a list of lost or stolen items
Try to recall every personal item that was left in your vehicle. In addition to your radio, purse or backpack, consider any personal documents such as bank or credit card statements, mail, etc. anything with your name and address or any other personal information. Refer to the list when you file a police report and claim with your insurance company. As a safety measure, you may also want to notify your bank to report any potential fraud.
- Contact the police & file a report
After you’ve recorded the damage made to your vehicle and taken inventory of what is missing, contact the local police department’s non-emergency line to report the break-in. When an officer arrives, you’ll need to provide copies of your vehicle registration, driver’s license, insurance information, photos of the damage, and a list of stolen property.
- Contact your insurance company
Most automotive comprehensive insurance policies will cover damages to the vehicle and any stolen items affixed to the vehicle after your deductible is paid. These include items such as shattered windows, stereo systems, ignition damage, cosmetic damages, etc. If personal items are stolen from your car, such as your phone, laptop, sporting equipment, CDs, etc., you’ll need to file a separate claim through your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance. You may want to obtain quotes for repairs prior to filing a claim on damages first, though. If the damages are close to what your deductible is, it may be smarter to just pay for the repairs yourself instead of the potential risk of increasing insurance premiums.
- Protect the window until it can be repaired
When it rains it pours. Literally. You’ll need to protect the damaged window area from further damage by the elements, pests, or heaven forbid—another break-in. Follow these tips on how to temporarily fix a broken car window:
- Clear as much broken glass as you can. Here’s how to clean up broken car window glass, safely:
- Using protective gloves, first clear any large shards from the seats and floorboards.
- Next, use a shop vacuum to vacuum away the remaining glass.
- Wipe down the window seal and frame with a soft, damp cloth. Clean the area well, removing as much dirt and dust as possible. A clean area ensures the tape will stick securely to the area for sealing.
- Seal the window using a garbage bag and clear packing tape. Starting from the inside of the car, place the garbage bag over the hole in the window. Holding the plastic tightly, begin taping the bag to the window frame on each side, ensuring no gaps are present. Gaps won’t be able to protect against moisture from rain or snow and may allow water to leak into your car. Add a second layer of tape around the window frame to be certain the tape will stay affixed to the area. Exit your car and test the area from the outside by tapping on the plastic. A nice taut area is what you’re aiming for. If there’s sagging, you’ll need to attempt the seal again.