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Where in Spain you are most likely to have your car stolen

Thieves steal 120 cars a day in Spain, the third highest rate in the EU. Here are the Spanish cities where you definitely have to double-check you’ve locked your car and the vehicle models crime gangs usually go for.

Where in Spain you are most likely to have your car stolen
Photos: Deposit Photos

There’s no denying that Spain is a safe country by global standards.

In a Eurostat crime study of 41 European countries, Spain came in 34th position for homicides, 21st place for sexual violence and 31st when it came to all types of robberies.

However, when it comes to car theft in the EU, Spain comes in at a rather disappointing third position behind Italy and the UK.

More than 40,000 cars were stolen in Spain in 2017, according to the country’s Interior Ministry.

The Spanish Association of Insurers and Reinsurers (UNESPA) calculated that that figure was even higher in 2016 – 155,000 vehicles stolen – equating to 425 car thefts a day.

According to reports in the Spanish press, crime gangs who sell the vehicles overseas or take them apart before selling the parts are responsible for much of this type of crime.

Their modus operandi is becoming increasingly cunning as well, as in the case of a syndicate who stole €4.5 million worth in vehicles by tracking the drivers with a GPS and using the same locator and crane to audaciously steal the vehicles back again from the police depot when Civil Guard officers had retrieved them.

So where in Spain are you most likely to have your car stolen?

Spain’s capital Madrid is by far the city with the worst car theft rate in the country, accounting for 33 percent of all stolen cars in 2017 according to government data.

The second city where the chances of having your car stolen are highest is Barcelona with 13 percent, but it’s closely followed by Malaga in third place, a surprising entry considering the southern city is Spain’s 6th most populated city.

This may be explained by its proximity to Marbella, a city renowned for its super-rich foreigners and the prevalence of luxury car theft.

Other cities where car theft is rife according to Interior Ministry data are Murcia (7 percent), Cádiz (7 percent), Sevilla (4 percent), Córdoba (4 percent) and Palma de Mallorca/Balearic Islands (3 percent).

Map: The Royal Automobile Club of Spain (RACE)

The absence of Valencia from the government’s car theft list may seem surprising to some, but UNESPA data suggests that the eastern coastal city is also greatly affected with more than 11,000 cars stolen in 2016.

The data from different studies does however match up when it comes to showcasing how Spain’s northern cities, those in the country’s interior and the Canary Islands are not as badly affected by this type of felony. 

Which car types and brands are the most stolen in Spain?

The latest government data points to SUVs as the vehicle category that thieves prey on the most, making up 60 percent of attempted car robberies in Spain in 2017.

Sedans and compact premium vehicles accounted for the other 40 percent.

In terms of the actual car brands and models that have been stolen the most, UNESPA’s study ranked Citroen Xsara, the Seat Ibiza, VW Golf, Seat León and BMW 3 series as the main ‘victims’ in 2016.

These are some of the most widely sold cars in Spain, which could partly account for their theft prevalence and the high demand for their car parts, stolen or otherwise.

Although large SUVs are car thieves' primary target, they tend to be stored in safer locations and have more complex security measures that impede their theft. 



Spain’s PM sent booby-trapped letter as more explosives detected

Pedro Sánchez received a booby-trapped letter last week which was "similar" to one which exploded Wednesday at Ukraine's embassy in Madrid, whilst two other explosive packages have been sent to other key locations in Spain.

Spain's PM sent booby-trapped letter as more explosives detected

Security staff carried out a “controlled explosion” of the mailed item, whose “content was similar” to that found in other letters sent to the Ukrainian embassy, an air force base, the defence ministry and a military equipment firm.

The envelope, “containing pyrotechnic material” and addressed to Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, arrived by regular mail on November 24th, the interior ministry said in a statement.

On Wednesday the security officer at Ukraine’s embassy in Madrid lightly injured his hand while opening a letter bomb addressed to the Ukrainian ambassador, prompting Kyiv to boost security at its embassies worldwide.

Spain’s High Court has opened a probe for a possible case of terrorism.

Later in the evening, a second “suspicious postal shipment” was intercepted at the headquarters of military equipment firm Instalaza in the northeastern city of Zaragoza, the interior ministry said.

Experts carried out a controlled explosion of that mailed item as well.

Instalaza makes the grenade launchers that Spain donates to Ukraine.

Earlier Thursday, security forces also detected a “suspect envelope” at an air base in Torrejón de Ardoz outside of Madrid which is regularly used to send weapons donated by Spain to Ukraine.

Police were called to the base “to secure the area and investigators are analysing this envelope” which was addressed to the base’s satellite centre, the interior ministry said.

“Both the characteristics of the envelopes and their content are similar in the four cases,” it said in a statement, adding police had informed the National Court of the four incidents.

A fifth envelope with “explosive” arrived at the defence ministry in Madrid on Thursday morning, a defence ministry source told AFP.

Experts blew up the package at the ministry, the source added.

‘Terrorist methods’

Ukraine’s ambassador to Spain, Serhii Pohoreltsev, appeared to blame Russia for the letter bomb that arrived at the embassy.

“We are well aware of the terrorist methods of the aggressor country,” he said during an interview late Wednesday with Spanish public television.

“Russia’s methods and attacks require us to be ready for any kind of incident, provocation or attack,” he added.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba ordered the strengthening of security at all Ukrainian embassies, the country’s foreign ministry spokesperson said Wednesday after the letter bomb went off at the embassy in Madrid.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February in what it calls a “special military operation”, which Kyiv and the West describe as an unprovoked land grab.

In addition to sending arms to help Ukraine, Spain is training Ukrainian troops as part of a European Union programme.