Stolen Land Cruiser? Here's What To Do...


May 12, 2015
Lots of threads on prevention. Let's do a go-to thread for folks who've actually lost a vehicle and need to know what they should be doing to get it back RIGHT NOW, without surfing through a zillion threads. Post up your thoughts, your experience, your questions. I'll do a short-version checklist right here in Post #1, updating as new ideas come in. Initial thoughts...

TIME MATTERS. Do these things, in this order, unless you have reason to change it up. Have someone else help if possible, so multiple things can happen at the same time. Dealing with police, for example, could be slow. The faster these things get done, the better your chances of getting your rig back in good shape.

1) If you're able to track the truck, track the truck. Right now. If you subscribe to some service that won't tell you where it is until you file a police report--or won't even tell you then, but will tell the cops--skip to Step 2. It's possible the truck was grabbed for a joyride or a crime, and is already abandoned.

2) Call the cops and report it stolen. If the vehicle is being tracked or can be tracked, tell them immediately. Some departments need a warrant to track, even if it's your stolen car--but nothing prevents YOU from telling them where it is so they're not waiting on a warrant. If you have the crime on camera, provide the footage. Give police the Make/model/year, VIN #, License plate #, owner and registration info, insurance info, and up-to-date PHOTOGRAPHS from all sides. Be ready to provide this info in paper and/or electronic form. If they want a copy of the title, be ready with that too. Confirm that the vehicle is in the state AND national (NCIC) systems. Call back an hour later and ask someone else to check and make sure it's in both systems. Call DMV and ask if it's stolen. Can't hurt to make calls or visits to city, county and (local post of) state departments. Be a person, not a number, if the department allows for that. Have this info ready to go before you need it, or you'll waste precious time putting it together. Keep in mind there will have to be a police report before your insurance company will pay for damage or replacement.

3) Provide the cops with the serial numbers and photos of any items stolen with the truck; these things may turn up separately from the truck--and if they do, the would-be seller may provide leads on the truck. This may involve contacting a different person/division within the department. Again, have this info ready to go.

3) Contact your local wheeling buddies, ask them to keep an eye out.

4) Post up on Mud, in your LC model tech forum and in the Stolen Vehicles section. (Tech forum because how often do we check the stolen vehicle section unless it's OUR rig that just got stolen?) I see people posting in their tech forum only, and not in the Stolen Vehicles forum--maybe they didn't know it was there? The SVF has the potential to reach all Cruiserheads on Mud, regardless of vintage. Here's the stolen vehicles forum link (which everyone should be WATCHING with ALERTS and EMAILS on NEW THREADS):

Also post up in your local Mud clubhouse. Find that here:

5) Drive the neighborhood; the vehicle could be very close. I was in a hit-and-run and found the vehicle a few blocks away from the scene. I didn't REALLY think anyone would be idiot enough to park it in plain sight, but they showed me. Right in front of their house. (Maybe being under the influence had something to do with that, I dunno.)

6) Canvas the area looking for cameras and asking about cameras you may not be able to see. Maybe the theft was recorded, or the vehicle/occupant or accompanying vehicle is on camera nearby, coming to or going from the scene of the crime. Maybe they stopped at the convenience store down the street before they took your rig. If they came to the scene in a car, look for that car on the recordings. You must do this quickly, as many security cams overwrite old footage every 24 hours, or every week etc. If you see something on the screen, record it with your phone in case it later disappears, or the shop owner doesn't want to deal with police, or whatever. Most outdoor security cam footage is sh*t, especially at night, but you could get lucky. The cops, generally speaking, will NOT have the manpower to go looking for cameras. Maybe if there's an obvious one pointing right at the scene. Make it easy; tell the cops who to contact about cameras or footage you've found. I did this with footage of the hit-and-run. It was night, the footage was sh*t (no faces, no people, no identifiable vehicle shapes; just two dark shapes with headlights), but you could see the other car go over the line and hit mine, then take off one minute before I reported the accident--and the perp was later placed in that area at that time (and their damaged car was a few blocks away), so that was enough. (Perp plead out when public defender shown footage in courtroom.)

7) Call whatever local authority you call to find out if your vehicle has been legally towed--to see if your vehicle has been legally towed, and if so, where it is. I don't how long it takes them to enter this info into their system, or how long it takes to check online or get someone on the phone. Gov't agency, so figure it's a timesuck. If you know you were parked illegally, ask the obvious person (home or business owner or clerk, property owner or security, etc.) if they had it towed, who they called and when. If there's a WILL BE TOWED sign up, pay attention, call the number.

8) Call the local tow companies and ask if your vehicle has been towed. This is NOT the same as calling the local gov't authority. Here's why: Thieves without a tow truck sometimes call a tow truck. "Gee I broke down, need a tow, can you help me out?" Last I heard, in many places tow companies are not required to verify ownership before towing. So the only peeps who know about such a tow are the thieves and the tow truck company. See if the company keeps a log by Make/Model/Year, plate or VIN; see if you're in it. Try to find the guy on-shift in your area when the vehicle disappeared. If the company doesn't know, maybe he does.

9) Post up anyplace else that seems useful--local websites, groups, shops, tow yards. From what I've seen, the vehicles that get recovered don't travel far; this makes local eyes (cops, wheelers, etc.) your best bet. Print up flyers with photo(s) for physical postings. Here and on Mud, wouldn't hurt to offer a reward if in good condition. Might the guy who wants the reward be the same one who stole it? Absolutely. You want your truck back, or what? Don't walk into something with A Fistful of Dollars; send or bring a cop, if you can. "Once the cops have it, I'll get you the reward," could work well--or could scare off a bad guy who actually knows where the truck is. Your call.

10) Seek information from private databases. An astonishing number of vehicles now snoop license plates and sell the information. Depending on your location, police cars, garbage trucks, mail trucks repo-man vehicles, roadside ALPRs, bridge cams, tunnel cams, street cams, and on and and on ad infinitum may be equipped with license plate readers. For the most part, this data is warehoused by private companies, and sold to police and (in many cases) just about anyone who shows up to buy it. If you can buy information on the time and location where your plate was spotted after the theft, do it--and provide that info to police. If the plate has been changed, you're out of luck. How many of these companies are able to ID individual vehicles without relying on the plate, I don't know.

11) Start checking craigslist, offerup, eBay, BringATrailer (where else?) for your rig or identifiable parts / items.

12) I dunno; I'm making this up as I go...

LAST: IF YOU RECOVER YOUR TRUCK (in whatever fashion), MAKE SURE THE COPS REMOVE IT FROM THE STOLEN VEHICLE DATABASES ASAP, or you may be stopped for stealing your own vehicle. If you found and recovered the vehicle yourself, who knows what illegal sh*t the thieves may have left behind. And guess what? That sh*t is now yours when it's found during the felony stop. "I swear, Officer, that's not mine! And this is MY truck!" Some of that may be sorted out at the station, and some of it may not. If you make any sudden moves, it may not matter. So, any sh*t you find in the vehicle, get it SAFELY out of the vehicle as fast as possible. (Don't leave a heroin baggy on the curb.) Search the seat area for needles before getting in. Search the whole vehicle as soon as you can. Give anything that's not going to get you in trouble to the cops; more than one thief has actually left his ID behind (and many have left OTHER people's IDs behind, so don't make any assumptions). Call back an hour later to make sure it's been removed. Call DMV and ask if it shows as stolen.

POST UP AS RECOVERED everywhere you posted up as stolen, so people aren't still looking, or looking for that reward, or calling you about the stolen vehicle you're driving. De-list those stolen gear serial numbers with the cops. Inform your insurance company about recovery and condition.


Anything I left out?

Is there any way to real-time crowdsource a Cruiser hunt with those in the area, without them needing to be on Mud to see the post? Or a way to quickly crowdsource VIA Mud? CRT: Cruiser Recovery Team. :) For the moment, we can all go to the Stolen Vehicle Forum, click WATCH, select NEW THREADS, ALERTS and EMAILS, and click WATCH again.

For those looking to PREVENT theft, this is a good start...

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