While there are many advantages of being an ex-pat or having a second home in Spain, it's an unfortunate fact that often these homes are left empty for long periods of time, meaning that they become a target for less scrupulous members of the criminal fraternity.
You may think it will never happen to you, but that's what every victim thinks. Being burgled can be a tremendously traumatic experience, especially in a foreign country when you're not sure of the procedures to follow in the immediate aftermath. Prevention is always better than cure, so take steps now to secure your property.
Don't Be an Easy Target
Given that second homes or holiday homes are generally equipped with electrical goods such as TVs, or other items that are easy to sell, these properties are an easy target. As is the case in the UK, any burglar worth his salt will know how to quickly identify a vulnerable property, and will be well versed in the ways of gaining access.
Obviously if you have concerns about the likelihood of your property being burgled, you should take steps to address security issues – install an intruder alarm and CCTV for example, if you can afford it. Ask a neighbour to regularly check on your home too, to ensure doors and windows are secure, and to notify the authorities if they do stumble across a break-in.
In addition there are two other basic steps you should undertake – make sure you have adequate insurance (that also covers you for fire, flooding or vandalism) - and create an inventory of all goods that you leave in your holiday property or second home.
The easiest way to create an inventory is to list and photograph everything in the property. Every time you buy something – electrical, furnishings, even soft furnishings, cutlery and crockery, keep the receipts. Scan those records to your PC and keep them in cloud storage if you have that option. This is especially important for valuables such as jewellery, pictures or artwork.
The Basic Steps to Follow in the Event That Your Property Is Burgled
If you find that your property has been broken into, don't panic. Those initial moments are the worst. Make sure you and your family are safe and that the intruder is not on the premises. Take deep breaths. Reassure anyone with you. Take control of yourself and the situation and respond appropriately and rationally.
Phone the Police
Just as you would in the UK, you need to immediately phone the police. The numbers you need include
Do Not Disturb the Evidence
It is always best never to go back inside, just in case someone is still on the premises. If you do have to go in for some reason, don't touch anything at all, because you will be disturbing the evidence. Leave it to the police or the Guardia Civil to check inside the property.
If for some reason you do have to be inside the property, take some photos of the disarray or damage to use as evidence. Only make a visual check for items that are missing and make a list.
Report the Offence
You must make a "denuncia" within 48 hours to the police or Guardia Civil. The Denuncia is a report of an offence, and it lets the relevant authorities know that an offence, in this case a burglary, has been committed. This is important as you will need to have completed this in order to make an insurance claim. If you do not complete a denuncia the crime will not officially exist and you will not be able to make an insurance claim.
You can complete the denuncia online. Save this link for future reference and just in case you need to make a Denuncia https://www.policia.es/denunweb/den_tel_in.html Look to the left of that page and you will spot a link that says "Por Internet". This is where you can report a burglary using an online form. You then take it to the police station to sign. You can also go directly to the following page if you want to complete the online form https://denuncias.policia.es/OVD/Principal.dgp
Or you can phone 902 102112 which provides a service in English between 9.00 and 21.00, and applies to documents for theft, vehicle theft, burglaries, lost documentation and damages. Phone the number and you will be given a range of options. You press the number given to report in English (rather than French, Italian or German) and then give details of the crime. You will be asked to elect a National Police Station and then you will need to ratify the report within 48 hours. Remember - if you do not sign it then no report exists.
If you can't fully complete the denuncia at the time you make the initial report, don't worry. You can add to it when you attend the police station or Guardia Civil offices to ratify it, or even later.
When you do go to the police station or Guardia Civil offices to ratify your denuncia, ensure you have all of the relevant documentation that you need, including your own identity documents and any receipts or documentary proof of the value of items stolen. You will also need to thoroughly check the translation on the denuncia is correct so it's a good idea to take a translator along with you.
There are many cases where the police are able to recover stolen goods so the chances are you may be reunited with your property. As long as you are able to provide the police with an accurate list of your possessions and images of the stolen goods this should be a straight forward process.
You can read further information on how to report a crime (denuncia) via our page at
You Will Be Scrutinised
You will have to prove that the items you say were stolen actually were stolen and that you are the owner. This is so that the police can rule out insurance fraud. Never invent items or add to your inventory. This is why it is vitally important you keep receipts and photos. It's very hard to prove otherwise.
Get in Touch with Your Insurance Company
The police will do this as well, but you should get the ball rolling as you will be making a claim.
If your burglary occurred from a hotel room it will be treated exactly the same way as a house burglary. Follow the steps above but notify hotel staff immediately as well.
Burglary from Rural Properties
Again, all the same advice applies, even if articles stolen include heavy machinery, animals or vehicles.
Finally – Take Action Now!
If your Spanish is not so good, find a local translator and keep their telephone number safe, along with the English language crime line number. You never know when you might need them.
Read more about how to make a denuncia at