How to Make a Police Denuncia in Spain

The sad reality of living in Spain is that you’ll likely have something stolen from you. Be it bikes, wallets, cell phones or other valuables, as a foreigner you are a pickpocket’s main prey. However, registering a complaint with the police, called a denuncia, will help you make insurance claims and in some cases recuperate your stolen belongings.

Police can also help you register complaints for domestic abuse, threats, a car accident or simply bad customer service.

Please remember, if you’ve had your wallet stolen, your absolute first step is to alert your bank and credit card companies, both home and abroad to cancel your cards. We also recommend keeping copies of your NIE and passport at home as well as proof of residency should the originals be lost or stolen.

Where do I go?

The Spanish National Police, known as the Cuerpo Nacional de Policia or Nacionales, is the body responsible for taking and registering denuncias. Look up your local commissary or comisaría here.

Remember that you’ll need to go to a comisaría and not a jefetura or Police Headquarters, which specializes in passport and DNI services but does not register denuncias. Even if you file over the phone in English, your form will need to be signed and picked up at your nearest police station.

COMO_Police Denuncia

We recommend going to the station nearest to where your robbery or incident took place, as the officers assigned to that prescient will know the zone well. It is not necessary to make an appointment ahead of time. 

What should I bring with me?

The better prepared you are for registering your complaint the easier it will be to make one.

Upon arrival you will be asked to check-in at the front desk by presenting a valid form of ID (a NIE, passport or photocopy in their absence will suffice).  You will then be instructed to wait and told who is in line in front of you. Respect the order.

When it’s your turn, you will be led to a separate office, asked for your photo ID again and told to detail the time and place that the robbery occurred to the best of your knowledge. All of this information will be listed in the police report. If you are not confident in your Spanish abilities, ask a friend or roommate to help.

What was stolen?

Depending on what item was stolen, there is specific information you should bring with you to the police station.

Electronics: Electronics come with a production or series number. If it’s a phone, it’s called an IMEI in Spain and can be found on the original packaging (this is the number the phone company will ask you for, should you want to block the terminal in case of theft). This number must be given in order to register the denuncia.

You can also download an app called Plan B on your Android or iPhone, which will send out a signal that locates the device. This could prove helpful to police.

Bike or vehicle: Provide the license plate number of the car, called the matrícula, as well as its color, make, model and any dings or dents. The same goes for bikes.

COMO_Biking in Spain

Personal belongings: Pictures are most helpful in this case. Ask the officer if you can email them to the commissary’s official email address as an addendum to your denuncia. List as many details as you can – if it’s jewelry, an imperfection. If it’s a bag or suitcase, list the contents.

Truth be told, it can be difficult to recuperate your lost items in Spain, particularly if they are valuable. Should your stuff show up on a website like Mil Anuncios or in a flea market, having a denuncia will allow police to seize the item you’ve registered.

What will the police ask me?

The police will inquire as to the nature of the robbery and if were hurt or threatened in any way. If violence was used, you have the right to take the perpetrator to court.

By giving as many details as possible, you can help catch the thief and recover your stolen belongings.

COMO_denuncia paperwork

You’ll walk away with two sheets of paper: one that outlines your rights and another that lists the main details of the theft and the case number. If you’d like a copy of the denuncia itself, ask for one.

How can I avoid getting pick-pocketed?

Seasoned expats in Spain joke that being robbed is a rite of passage, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some ideas to help avoid this unfortunate circumstance:

  • Never leave your bag or cell phone on a chair or table – keep it in front of you or on your lap.
  • Choose the right type of bag or purse that shuts with a zipper or flaps to deter would be pickpockets from easy access to your wallet or phone.
  • Consider taking out insurance for electronics.  If you pay a few euros a month, you may be able to get a replacement by presenting your denuncia to your insurance provider.
  • Lock your bike or scooter with quality locks, as the cheaper coils are easily cut. Better yet, get two.
  • Walk confidently and try to avoid calling attention to yourself.

Spain in general is a safe place, but petty robbery is a reality and occurs often to students, expats and even locals. Stay safe and know your rights.

Have you recently gotten robbed in Spain? Send us an email if you’re unsure of where to go or what to do. We’ve been through it and are happy to help!

Author: Como Consulting Spain

Cat and Hayley are relocation specialists who can help you move to, live in and work in Spain. We'd love to hear from you! hola@comoconsultingspain.com

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41 Comments

  1. I was just on a business trip to Barcelona and had my phone stolen by a pickpocket. We noticed but were unable to catch them.

    I had to fly out and did not have time to report to the policy. I’ve also heard that the police there refuse to file reports of pickpockets?

    Is there a way I can have my device IMEI registered/submitted as stolen in Spain?

    Post a Reply
      • Definitely a plus! These sorts of things didn’t exist when we first came to Spain, so it seems we’re all finally getting our acts together! We personally recommend going in person to get the documents stamped and signed, and putting a face to a denuncia seems to get better results.

        Post a Reply
  2. I had my bag stolen from a public toilet whilst visiting Mijas for the day. I tried to report it to a policeman who just shrugged and wasn’t very helpful. Then I went to the tourist information centre who helped me ring my bank to cancel my credit cards and block my phone.they said we should wait 2 days then report it to the police. I tried to do this at a station in Marbella but was shooed away by the officers who said they were closed
    I’ve since returned home and my insurance company won’t accept the claim without the crime report number.is there anyway I can get this retrospectively given the response I had ?

    Post a Reply
    • Elizabeth – what a mess! We’re sorry to hear that your purse was stolen on holiday and that you’re having issues. To be honest, the whole situation in Mijas sounds fishy! A closed police commissary? Especially in a touristed city?

      Insurance companies in Spain usually require a claim to be reported within 48 hours of the crime. Those that are violent usually lead to convictions, but for insurance purposes, try filing your complaint online here: https://denuncias.policia.es/OVD/ That way, you’ll have the proof you need for the company. We’d also encourage you to file an official complaint, called a reclamación, against the police commissary that turned you away! Good luck.

      Post a Reply
      • My daughter is in exactly this position now after having her phone stolen. Twice she has gone to the police station with her IMEI number and twice the police have shooed her away and been very rude and unhelpful. This has happened in Fuengirola. What else can she do while she’s still there . Unfortunately she doesn’t speak Spanish and there doesn’t seem to be English translation for the denuncia.policia.es form on line.

        Post a Reply
        • Hi Deb,

          That’s a very unfortunate situation. Does your daughter have any friends that speak Spanish (it’d be even better if they are Spanish) that could accompany here to the station? It’s a sad state of affairs that the police force aren’t willing to spend the time to file her denuncia, but surely if a local were to go with her they would be able to sort something out.

          Post a Reply
  3. Hello, My wifes smarphone was stolen in Palma, near the church. It was a bit older Phone (S4 mini)so we did not made a “denuncia”, because we had to travel by taxi a lot of kilometres according to a local policeman we spoke.
    You write in you article about stolen phones that when you want to reprot your stolen phone that you need the IMEI number, but I assume that 100% of the people can not report their stolen phone, because theit IMEI is at home. (foreign country)

    Why you can not report the phone stolen by Internet? (like the Netherlands)

    At this moment all we want is block the IMEI number, but then we need a report from the local police where the phone was stolen, which is not possible due lack the IMEI of the stolen phone at that moment…..
    Is there still something we can do?

    Regards Nick

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Nick,

      We understand your frustration. Spain is not as technologically advanced as other countries in Europe and denuncias cannot be made over Internet or without the IMEI number. You might try reporting the stolen item in your home country and explaining why you were unable to report it as stolen in Spain. At this point, it’s probably the only thing you can do. We’re so sorry this happened to you and hope it didn’t ruin your vacation!

      Post a Reply
  4. I my daughter was in Barcelona and here phone was stolen it was not reported to police when they were there how di i get a crime refrance number

    Post a Reply
  5. Guys, do you know how to complain against police.
    I applied for a crime but they do nothing to investigate the
    case.
    The problem is that they caught the thief but after one day just let him go, my bike was stolen in public place under video cameras.

    Post a Reply
  6. I am Bulgaria citizen and i live in my country. My ex husband holding my residents and don’t want to give it back to me. He is Nigeria citizen and live in Barcelona. How i can report hithout coming to Spain? Maybe he can use it for something and make a problems to me.

    Post a Reply
  7. Hello there, I spent the month of April in Mallorca, Spain. I got my phone stolen there but now that I am back home I wanted to know if there was a solution for me to get my phone back without me going back there. I have my IMEI number. Cheers, Natalie

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Natalie,
      We’re very sorry to hear about your stolen phone but we doubt you’ll be able to recover it. First off, it would need to have been found or confiscated by the police as a stolen item then you would need to have filed an official denuncia and if it were in their possession then you could claim it.

      Post a Reply
      • Thank you very much for your answer. I didn’t mention that my stolen phone is at the police station, but when I went there they wouldn’t give it back to me unless I have my IMEI code. Do you think that they would still have my phone for me to take back? Cheers

        Post a Reply
        • There’s really no telling. If you have a friend that could go to the station in person with a note giving them authority to collect to phone, a paper with your information, information about the phone and your signature – then you might be able to.

          Post a Reply
  8. I’m a Portuguese citizen.
    My husband was physical injured in a rent-a-car balcony, by a person that work there. I witnessed.
    What should we do?
    It was in Ibiza,last June (one month ago), which one is the competent jurisdiction?
    Thank you.

    Post a Reply
  9. I had my purse stolen in Tarragona this morning. It had cash and my driving licence in it. How do I report this? Tried phoning an english speaking police line and they say I need to go in person to the police station in Tarragona. Is that true or can I do it online?

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Linda, bad luck! We’re sorry to hear you had your purse stolen. You can denounce the crime over the phone but sometimes must sign it if the objects lost were of a certain value. Fingers crossed everything works out for you.

      Post a Reply
  10. Hi there,
    Last Friday I got a bus from Barcelona to London. When I got to Paris I had to change buses and it was here that I realised that my suitcase had been stolen. I contacted the bus company and they just told me to fill out a form. I want to make police report to the police in Barcelona but am not sure if I can do it now as am back home. Can you advise me on the best course of action.
    Kind Regards,
    Denise

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Denise, super bad luck – we’re so sorry to hear it. Hopefully someone grabbed the wrong suitcase and will let the company know soon. You can use the links on the page to call the English language hotline if you don’t speak Spanish. be prepared to give a detailed description of the bag and its contents. Our fingers are crossed for you and your belongings!

      Post a Reply
  11. Hi. Unfortunately my bag was stolen whilst I was at a restaurant in Madrid Very late on Saturday. I contacted the restaurant afterwards to see if anything was caught on camera but they said no. We actually flew back first thing Sunday morning with no time to go to a police station to report it and get a crime reference number. Is there anything I can do now to get a crime ref number?

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Jenna, if the bag was stolen without force, there’s little you can do but file. Give the number listed a ring and ask to speak with someone in English if your Spanish isn’t up to par. Good luck, and sorry about your bag!

      Post a Reply
  12. My hire car was broken into in Fuengirola on the way to Malaga airport and I did not have time to report the theft of my rucksack and contents. How do I report this after the event?

    Post a Reply
  13. I had a moped stolen in marbella in 2011, i made denuncia . I did not know about “baja” at the time. I am trying to deregister”baja” the moped but my gestoria said they have changed the law and they cannot do now. He said the they do at the police station now but when i went there they said they dont do it , so where and what do i do now?

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Charlotte, we’re puzzled a bit by your question. Are you trying to put your moto as baja? Are you in Spain or abroad? Please send us an email so that we can be of more help.

      Post a Reply
  14. Guys … hope you can help. We paid almost a $1000 for a dress while we were in Madrid and he promised to ship it to us. Its been 8 months now and no sign of it. We live in California and the shop was Lola Almela in Madrid. How do we recover our money or at least make him send the dresses ?
    Can we file a remote police report ?

    Post a Reply
    • Hi There SR,
      We’re so sorry this has happened to you, but unfortunately there’s no easy or quick fix. You could hire a lawyer and sue the shop for “incumplimiento de contrato,” or perhaps threaten to do so and see how they respond.

      Post a Reply
  15. I was on holiday in Spain and my wallet , passport , driving license and iPhone were stolen by pickpocketers. I filed in my police complaint but didn’t provide the iphone IMEI SINCE I DIDNT know it at the time. I am back in the UK now. How can I provide this number now.

    Post a Reply
    • My purse with bunch of money was stolen today, feeling awful. Did police find anything????

      Post a Reply
  16. Hi there

    I was pick pocketed the night before a very early flight back to the UK from Barcelona. In order to claim the insurance for my phone I need a police report but they wont give me one without me going in there to sign something? That was the guy on the english speaking police number. He also said Barcelona has its own police force that I need to contact but said he had no details.. Any help greatly appreciated.

    Thanks

    Post a Reply
    • Hi There Caroline,
      We’re so sorry that you were pick pocketed. Unfortunately, the last step when filing any police report in Spain is the signature. You can try calling again and see if someone is able to give you another option, but we are unaware of what you might be able to do save a return trip to Spain.

      Post a Reply
  17. Thank you for the informative article! Would you happen to know if it would be possible to obtain a(n official) confirmation/document that a police report was filed against a particular defendant in Madrid, or is there any database where this information can be found – even if the case may potentially not have been investigated any further or didn’t lead to a conviction? I ask since similar complaints were filed against said defendant abroad, and it would be of great importance to be able to obtain a copy/statement that a police report was filed against this individual in Madrid too. Thank you very much!

    Post a Reply
  18. Hello
    My cousin and I were in Madrid in April, she got her purse and contents stolen whilst there, we did go to the police station in Madrid to report it and they gave us a number but didn’t tell us that we had to get a police report and now the insurance company is declining it as we don’t have the actual report, my daughter is still in Madrid teaching English is there anything we can do to get the report

    Post a Reply
    • Absolutely!
      Have your daughter head back to the police station with the number and ask them for a print out of the report. If not, she can follow the steps as outlined in the article and file a new report for your insurance company.

      Post a Reply

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