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

Where are you most likely to have your car stolen in Spain and which models are thieves after?
Nine provinces in Spain have an above average rate of car theft compared to the national average. Photo: TheDigitalWay/Pixabay
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. 

In 2019, out of the 20.7 million insured vehicles in Spain, there were 128,000 attempted car thefts, including those in which valuables inside were taken but not the vehicle itself.

This represents a drop of 7,000 compared to 2018’s figures and the lowest figure in a decade. 

Spain’s Interior Ministry recorded an even bigger drop in car theft in 2020 – down by 25 percent – as a result of the pandemic, lockdown and other restrictions, but the general consensus is that the trend will continue as it was in 2019 once Covid-19 doesn’t dominate daily life. 

A 2021 study by the Spanish Association of Insurers and Reinsurers (UNESPA) has shed light on where most car thefts were recorded in 2019. 

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 surrounding has 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 for 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 apart 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 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 Serie 3
  • Citroën Xsara
  • Peugeot 206
  • Ford Fiesta 
  • Renault Mégane
  • Opel Astra
  • Citroën C3 
  • Renault Clio
  • Volkswagen Polo
  • Citroën C4
  • Nissan Qashqai

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