Looking outside your window to see an unfamiliar car parked on the street can be uneasy. If the car sits there for hours, days, or keeps coming back, it warrants attention. It shouldn’t be ignored if you see a suspicious car parked right outside your house, especially late at night or while you’re away.
Or they may be perfectly innocent but still unnerving. If a car parked near your home is causing you concern, take action. You can start by observing details like the make, model, color, and license plate. Notice if someone is sitting inside and what they seem to be doing. If the car is there overnight or for multiple days without moving, it’s smart to call the police non-emergency number and report it.
In our guide, you can learn more about what to do if you see a suspicious car sitting outside your house. By the end, you’ll better understand what to do when you notice a suspicious car parked, with or without a person in the car. (Read Can You Work On A Car In A Storage Unit)
What To Do If There’s A Suspicious Car Parked In Front Of Your House?
If you look outside and see a car parked directly in front of your house, it could simply be a neighbor or guest. But if it’s a car you don’t recognize that’s been sitting there for a long time, it warrants investigating further. Here are some steps to take:
- Get a detailed description of the car – color, make, model, license plate if possible. This will be helpful if you need to report it.
- See if you can notice anyone inside the car. Are they sitting in the driver’s seat? Backseat? Are they moving around or just sitting still?
- Call the non-emergency police line and report the suspicious car. Explain how long it’s been there and any details about the car and occupant(s).
- You can also report a suspicious vehicle online in many cities.
- If the car is still there after a few hours, call the cops to provide an update for the person sitting in a car outside your home. A car parked in one spot for over 72 hours can be towed.
- Trust your instincts – if a parked car outside your home gives you an uneasy feeling, don’t hesitate to call it in. Police would rather check it out than miss a potential crime in progress.
Why Would Someone Park Outside My House For Hours?
There are a few reasons an unfamiliar car might be parked outside your house for a prolonged period:
- They’re watching your home: Whether it’s a potential burglar casing your house or a private investigator keeping tabs, someone sitting in a car could be surveilling your home.
- Waiting for someone: They may be waiting to meet or pick someone up from your house. Though sitting parked outside for hours seems excessive for simply waiting for someone.
- Up to no good: Unfortunately, some suspicious cars can also be linked to criminal activity, like drug deals, prostitution, or planning a robbery.
- Harmless but odd behavior: Sometimes people park and sit in their cars for reasons that seem suspicious but turn out benign.
Bottom line – a stranger sitting in a car for hours for extended periods warrants attention. While it may be innocent, take precautions if you see a car sit in front of your house late at night, and call the police immediately if they can see into your house from their parking position. (Read What Is Burning The Clutch)
How Long Can A Car Legally Park In Front Of My House?
In most residential areas, no laws expressly prohibit parking in front of someone else’s home. Vehicles parked on public residential streets are generally allowed to remain in one spot indefinitely as long as they’re not violating posted parking signs.
So, how long can a car sit, or how long can people park in front of a home? Most cities have laws against abandoned vehicles – cars left parked unattended for extended periods.
A vehicle parked in the same spot for 72 hours or more is generally considered abandoned and can be reported. If not moved, the city may come out and mark the car’s tires before eventually towing it away.
So while there may not be a precise legal limit on how long a car can park in front of your house, if you see a strange car hasn’t moved in 3 days, they can get towed. Use your best judgment – if it’s been sitting there overnight or for multiple days, call the police non-emergency line and describe the car.
How To Handle A Strange Car Parked In Front Of My House At Night?
Coming home late at night to find what you think is a suspicious car on your street and parked in front of your home could spell trouble. Here are smart tips if you notice a strange vehicle parked near your house after dark:
- Stay in your house and lock all doors and windows. Call 911 if you see any threatening behavior.
- Turn on all exterior lights and security cameras if you have them installed.
- Take photos or video of the car if safely possible. Get the license plate, make/model, and any other identifying details.
- Call the non-emergency police number or 911, depending on the circumstances.
- If the car remains parked overnight, call back when morning comes if it has not moved. Police can ticket or tow abandoned vehicles.
- Trust your gut feeling – if a car looks suspicious, take precautions and alert authorities.
How Can I Prevent Suspicious Cars From Parking In Front Of My House?
Having strange cars repeatedly parking in front of your home can cause unease and frustration. Here is a way to prevent suspicious cars from parking on your street:
- Ask neighbors to call police if unknown cars park in front of your home during your absence. The more eyes on the street the better.
- Install security cameras pointing at the street to monitor any unusual activity and capture evidence.
- Post “No Parking” or “Private Property” signs in front of your home. While public streets allow parking, signs may deter nefarious plans.
Remember, no one can reserve spaces in front of their house as it is a public highway. Everyone who parks in front of a house has the right to, yet it is illegal to park in front of the house if the car belongs to thieves. (Read Can You Paint Rims)
What Should I Do If I Notice My Neighbor Sitting In Their Car Outside My House?
If you think, there is a car outside of my house, and the person inside appears to be watching my house. You may feel comfortable confronting a stranger parked outside your home, but what if it’s your own neighbor?
Here are some tips to tactfully handle this situation:
- Walk outside to see, and knock on their window and talk to the person to see if they need any help.
- If they claim to be resting, ask them politely if they’d mind moving to avoid alarming you or other neighbors.
- Suggest chatting in one of your homes rather than sitting in the car – this shows concern for their wellbeing.
- Remain polite yet firm that parking and loitering directly in front of your home makes you uncomfortable.
When Should I Call The Police To Report Suspicious Activity?
Any time an unknown car is parked in front of or near your home for an extended period, it’s smart to place a non-emergency call to the police. Here are some specific scenarios that warrant phoning the cops:
- The car has been stationary in front of or near your house for over 48 hours.
- Someone is sitting inside the parked car on your street for over an hour, especially at odd hours.
- You witness suspicious behavior – the driver pacing, lurking, peering into cars or homes.
- The car is parked in the same spot on multiple nights or days in a row.
- The vehicle description matches one linked to recent crimes in your area.
- You don’t recognize the car as it isn’t often parked outside your neighbor’s house.
Are There Online Forms For Reporting Suspicious Vehicles?
Most city police departments now offer online forms for reporting non-emergency issues, such as to report a suspicious car. These make it quick and easy to document your concerns without even picking up the phone.
Look for a “File Police Report Online” section on your city government’s website. Or search “[your city] report the suspicious car online”. Common information requested includes:
- Your name and contact info
- Address where the suspicious vehicle was seen
- Date/time it was observed
- Details like make, model, color and any identifiers like bumper stickers
- Description of suspicious behaviors witnessed
What If The Car Doesn’t Seem Suspicious But I’m Still Uneasy?
Even if a car parked near your home doesn’t overtly appear suspicious, as the resident you’re entitled to report vehicles that make you uneasy. Some circumstances that warrant calling police even if there are no clear red flags:
- A car is repeatedly parking in front of your house overnight or during your work hours.
- Friends or guests of neighbors park on your side of the street rather than leaving space in front of their own homes.
- Unknown vehicles park on your street whenever a neighbor leaves their home.
- Any vehicle is parked directly in front of your house for over 3 days.
Police can investigate, speak with neighbors, and increase patrols as needed. Don’t dismiss your gut feeling – remember suspicious activity is anything that makes you feel uneasy, call the cops for suspicious activity. (Read Can You Put Synthetic Oil In A Lawn Mower)
Having an unfamiliar person sitting outside your home can feel like an invasion of privacy at best and sinister surveillance at worst. Don’t ignore suspicious vehicles near your house – whether it’s a car parked across the street at night or one that’s been stationary for days.
Don’t confront suspicious people directly, but make sure to capture any helpful details and evidence. With vigilance and cooperation with law enforcement, you can discourage a car in your neighborhood loitering or where people park for hours in front of a house to break in when the house is empty.
How long can someone legally park in front of my house?
In most residential areas, there is no legal limit on how long someone parking in front of your home needs to follow if they are not violating posted parking restrictions. However, a car parked in one spot for 72 hours in front of someone’s house can be towed after you report an abandoned car.
Should I call 911 or the non-emergency number for a suspicious parked car?
For non-urgent issues like cars parked for long periods, call the police non-emergency number. But call 911 if you witness threatening behavior, property damage, or believe a crime is in progress.
Can I get a car towed that’s parked in front of my house?
Generally only a law enforcement officer can authorize towing a vehicle from a public street. But if you see an abandoned car, calling police can get it towed sooner.
Is it illegal for someone to sit in their car parked on my street?
Sitting in a lawfully parked car is not inherently illegal, but it still warrants scrutiny. Police can investigate why someone would park outside of your house for an extended period.