Officials in Freehold Township and Toms River are among the latest in New Jersey to warn residents of thieves targeting personal property inside vehicles — whether or not their doors are locked.

The tactic is no stranger to the Garden State — and it's one of the easiest grabs for crooks if doors are left unlocked — but you may be surprised to learn that you can be reimbursed for the items stolen from your car or truck.

The process, however, has nothing to do with your auto insurance policy.


"An auto insurance policy doesn't cover the items inside the vehicle," said Ron Bansky, an insurance agent with Allstate in Princeton Junction and Westfield. "That's covered under home insurance, renter's insurance, condo insurance — whatever type of insurance you might have on your residence."

A typical policy, Bansky said, would spell out how much of your personal property coverage is applied to items that are not at the residence — a wallet full of cash inside your car, or a suitcase full of clothes at a hotel, for example.

So if your car windows are broken and your golf clubs are stolen, you're potentially staring at two deductibles — one to handle the damage to the vehicle and the other to handle the stolen goods.

"Obviously you can be as cautious as possible, and these things still do happen," Bansky said.

Within an individual policy, there typically are limitations on what an insurer is willing to pay to repair or replace certain items. If big-ticket items, such as a wedding ring, would be worth more than what a policy is willing to cover, you may want to buy additional coverage to handle those items separately.