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CRIME

Where are you most likely to have your car stolen in Spain and which models are thieves after?

Car theft is by no means rife in Spain but it does happen and there are particular locations and specific car models that criminals target the most. 

stolen cars spain
Nine provinces in Spain have an above average rate of car theft compared to the national average. Photo: TheDigitalWay/Pixabay

In 2021, out of the roughly 25 million vehicles in Spain, there were 37,000 car thefts in the country, around 100 a day.

That means Spain is the seventeenth country with the highest rate of car theft in the world, with Italy, the Czech Republic, Sweden, France and Greece occupying the top spots.

According to the latest stats by Spain’s Interior Ministry, 85 percent of car thefts in 2021 were improvised, whereas 15 percent had some degree of planning. 

The ministry did not release stats on the number of attempted car thefts in Spain, including those in which valuables inside were taken but not the vehicle itself, but in 2019 these totalled 128,000 in the country.

The rate of car theft has actually dropped slightly in recent years in Spain, with the biggest drop in 2020 due largely to Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions preventing criminals from operating more freely. 

Car thieves in Spain tend to work in groups and tend to be between the ages of 20 and 27, preferring to rob cars (80 percent of times) over vans, motorbikes and other vehicles.

According to smart anti-theft GPS device manufacturer Trackting, only 10 percent of stolen vehicles in Spain are recovered.

Where are most cars stolen in Spain?

A 2021 study by the Spanish Association of Insurers and Reinsurers (UNESPA) shed light on where most car thefts are recorded. 

Nine out of Spain’s 50 provinces had higher than average car theft levels. The following list shows the provinces with the highest and lowest probability of a car being stolen compared to the national average. 

The Andalusian capital and its provincial surroundings have a surprisingly high rate of car robberies, as does its regional counterpart Huelva, where the chances of having a vehicle stolen are higher than in Barcelona province. 

Sevilla 87,62%

Madrid 65,70%

Huelva 44,07%

Barcelona 37,92%

Guadalajara 16,30%

Toledo 15,70%

Cádiz 11,53%

Valencia 9,80%

Tarragona 4,39%

Córdoba -1,76%

Soria -4,51%

Málaga -6,07%

Gerona -8,00%

Vizcaya -12,67%

Badajoz -13,64%

Álava -13,85%

Cuenca -16,60%

Ciudad Real -19,34%

Lérida -20,42%

Zamora -20,47%

Zaragoza -21,50%

Valladolid -26,18%

Burgos -26,19%

Ávila -26,38%

Jaén -26,97%

Albacete -30,33%

Segovia -33,40%

León -33,59%

Santa Cruz de Tenerife -33,79%

Murcia -34,21%

Granada -34,89%

La Rioja -35,11%

Almería -36,68%

Alicante -37,65%

Palencia -38,01%

Islas Baleares -38,09%

Teruel -38,66%

Navarra -39,51%

Salamanca -40,17%

Orense -41,01%

Castellón -41,93%

Guipúzcoa -42,94%

Huesca -42,98%

Cáceres -44,78%

Las Palmas -52,30%

Asturias -56,88%

La Coruña -57,19%

Pontevedra -57,83%

Lugo -58,17%

Cantabria -59,64%

UNESPA map of Spain’s provinces showing where car theft is high (dark red), medium (orange) and low (pink).

UNESPA’s research also focused on specific Spanish cities where car theft is above the national average. 

The figures show how the autonomous Spanish city of Melilla has a car theft rate almost 200 percent higher than the national average, by far the highest in the country. 

It’s followed by Seville and the city of Dos Hermanas just outside the Andalusian capital, showcasing how common robos de automóviles (car theft) are in this part of the country. 

It’s worth noting that cars are stolen more often on the outskirts of Spain’s biggest cities, in places such as Santa Coloma de Gramenet and Badalona near Barcelona and Parla, Fuenlabrada, Rivas-Vaciamadrid and Móstoles in Madrid’s case.

It’s an exhaustive list so we’ve only included UNESPA’s data for the cities where the probabilities of having your car stolen are above the national average. 

If your city is not on the list, then it means that car theft isn’t particularly common there. 

And if you live in the northern cities of Gijón (-63,15%), Santiago de Compostela (-65,54%), Orense (-66,20%), Vigo (-72,00%). Pontevedra (-74,96%) or Santander (-84,46%), rest assured that the chances of your vehicle being broken into are the lowest in Spain. 

Melilla 195,01%

Sevilla 111,90%

Dos Hermanas 102,52%

Santa Coloma de Gramenet 91,99%

Parla 89,95%

Fuenlabrada 88,61%

Rivas-Vaciamadrid 74,79%

Badalona 65,21%

Móstoles 56,25%

Huelva 55,31%

L’Hospitalet de Llobregat 52,09%

Coslada 49,37%

Getafe 48,08%

Leganés 43,04%

Mataró 42,81%

Alcalá de Guadaíra 41,94%

Madrid 37,88%

Barcelona 36,78%

Tarragona 34,17%

Reus 28,52%

Valencia 27,43%

Cornellà de Llobregat 24,30%

Alcorcón 24,22%

Valdemoro 22,11%

Sant Boi de Llobregat 19,83%

Torrent 18,02%

Jerez de la Frontera 17,92%

El Puerto de Santa María 16,88%

Torrejón de Ardoz 15,55%

Alcalá de Henares 12,88%

Rubí 12,09%

Sabadell 9,53%

San Fernando 5,58%

Ceuta 5,19%

The last EU-wide data from 2015 to 2017 shows that Spain – with 69 police-recorded vehicle thefts per 100,000 people – is not among the member states where car theft is more prevalent, although more recent Eurostat data would confirm whether this remains the case.

Car_thefts spain eu

 

Which cars do thieves steal the most in Spain?

UNESPA’s 2021 study also took the latest available data from 2019 to assess which vehicles criminals are looking to break into. 

The experts agree that car thieves in Spain are not looking for the latest high-end models but rather old-school bestsellers. 

The reasons for this include the fact that these earlier models don’t have such advanced locking and security systems when compared to newer models, allowing thieves with limited knowledge to break into them quickly in the street. 

The fact that they are very popular car models in Spain and elsewhere in Europe and further afield means that the vehicles can be dismantled and the pieces can easily be sold separately on the black market.  

most stolen cars spainSeat Ibizas are the most stolen cars in Spain, especially older models. Photo: Txemari/Flickr

A similar study carried out in 2021 by insurance comparison website Acierto.com generated almost exactly the same results as UNESPA’s findings on Spain’s most stolen models (it also included Audi A4).

The report stressed that 80 percent of stolen cars in Spain are over ten years old, concluding as well that the fact that these older models tend to need replacement parts means big business for car thieves. 

These are the 15 most stolen cars in Spain in 2019 according to UNESPA, recommending that those with older models in particular take action to install extra anti-theft devices in their vehicles.  

  • Seat Ibiza
  • Seat León
  • Volkswagen Golf
  • Ford Focus
  • BMW 3 Series
  • Citroën Xsara
  • Peugeot 206
  • Ford Fiesta 
  • Renault Mégane
  • Opel Astra
  • Citroën C3 
  • Renault Clio
  • Volkswagen Polo
  • Citroën C4
  • Nissan Qashqai

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For members

LIFE IN SPAIN

How to lodge a formal complaint in Spain: Hoja de reclamación

If you’ve experienced bad service in Spain that didn’t meet expectations or bought a product that didn’t do what it promised to, then you may want to fill out an official complaint form in a bid to get your money back. Here’s how to go about it.

How to lodge a formal complaint in Spain: Hoja de reclamación

At some point or another everyone has probably experienced poor service and demanded to be reimbursed, whether it was because a bus had a broken air-con in 40C heat and was two hours delayed or you bought a product from a store that broke a month later. 

The first step is obviously to try and contact the company and sort out the issue amicably, but if this method isn’t producing any fruitful results, you may want to fill out an hoja de reclamación. 

This essentially translates as a ‘claim sheet’ and is an official complaint form you can lodge against a company to try and get reimbursed for your purchase.

READ ALSO: What to be aware of before opening a shared bank account in Spain

According to the Organisation of Consumers and Users (OCU) there are three reasons that a complaint form of this kind can help. It can:

  • Let the Consumer Administration know about your case, so they can investigate it.
  • Try and get the company to reach an agreement with you.
  • Sanction the company if it has breached any of its obligations.

What are the advantages of filling out an official complaint form?

Sometimes, just the threat of filling out an official complaint form is enough for the company to give in or propose an acceptable agreement.

Companies obviously don’t want to have lots of negative reviews and have complaints filed against them, so by filling one out, you are actually helping them improve their customer service. 

If the company still won’t do anything after you’ve submitted the form and later you go to settle the matter in court, having filled out the form will be proof that you tried to find a solution first.

Can you use this type of form for all companies?

The OCU explains that there are companies in some sectors that you shouldn’t fill out an hoja de reclamación for in the first place. Instead, you must contact the customer service department of the company itself.

This is true for banks, insurance providers, investment companies, telecommunications services, transportation companies, airlines and energy companies.

“If they do not respond in a month or respond but do not provide a satisfactory solution, then you should go down the specific dispute route that their company proposes,” the OCU states.

How do I fill out this type of complaint form?

If you are dealing with a business or service provider that does not have a specific claim channel such as a bar, store, supermarket or hotel, you can ask directly for the claim form.

The form has three copies – one for you, another for the administration and another that you must deliver to the establishment itself. 

Make sure to make photocopies of any supporting documents that serve as evidence such as contracts, tickets, invoices, guarantees, advertisements or photos.

Once completed, you must give your forms and evidence to the Municipal Consumer Information Office (OMIC) or by mail or by electronic means to the General Directorate of Consumption of your region.

Each region will have its own forms you need to complete. If you don’t ask for them from the business itself, you can find them online. The one for Catalonia can be found here, for Valencia here, for Andalusia here, and for Madrid here. For other regions, you can simply type into an internet search engine: hojas de reclamaciones + your region.

Once completed, your case will be studied and you may be presented with a resolution. If it is not successful but the administration finds that the company has breached any consumer regulations, it will open a case starting a disciplinary procedure that usually ends in a fine.

Remember that, it is not guaranteed that you will get compensation, even if the company ends up being fined.

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