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What do police do when a car is vandalized?

Updated April 12, 2017

When police receive a complaint that a car has been vandalised, they will take a report from the owner. What happens next depends on the local jurisdiction and whether the police agency has sufficient resources to fully investigate every crime.

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First Steps

If your car is vandalised, you should make a report as soon as possible by either calling the nonemergency police number or going to the police station in person. Be sure to have available your vehicle registration, car license number and as much detail as possible about when, where and how the car was damaged.


Whether the police will come to the scene to take a report depends on a number of factors, including whether there is an officer available and what the department priorities are at the time. In many jurisdictions, car vandalism is a low priority for investigation.

Time Frame

It is important to make a police report as soon as possible after you notice the vandalism. If the police do not come to the scene, you should take photos of the vandalism from every angle and make an inventory of anything damaged or missing from the car.

What to Expect

If a police officer does come to investigate the car vandalism, he or she will usually take photographs of the damage and the surrounding area. The officer may also see if fingerprints or other evidence was left behind by the person responsible for the vandalism.

Insurance Considerations

One of the reasons for filing a police report and asking for an investigation is that your automobile insurance may cover any damages. The police will give you a report or incident number which you should keep to provide to your insurance company if you make a claim.


Most of the time when a car is vandalised, it is a random act. However, if you believe it is a result of harassment directed at the owner, be sure to report that to the police. To prevent random acts of vandalism, try to park in lighted areas, close to other activities or in a locked garage.

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About the Author

Rita Radostitz lives in Eugene, Oregon. She has written about human rights, health & fitness and interesting people for years. Her articles have appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Oregon Quarterly and on various websites. Radostitz holds a Masters of Science in journalism with distinction from the University of Oregon and a law degree cum laude from Villanova University.

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