Gone in 60 Seconds: Spanish Police Arrest 7 Tied to Car Theft Ring

Spanish police arrested Monday seven members of a Bulgarian-based car theft ring, whose members were good enough to get in and out in under 60 seconds.

Spain Car RobbersThe alleged thieves were good enough to steal the cars and make good their escape in under 60 seconds, police said. (Photo: El Ministerio del Interior de España, License)National Police allege that the seven individuals are part of a larger Bulgarian crime network that would steal high-value cars in less than a minute, falsify their VIN numbers, and then sell them on the international black market.

Informed of the ring’s activities by the Interior Attaché of the Bulgarian Embassy, Spanish authorities discovered that the group was using Madrid and Catalonia as venues to sell vehicles in the 350,000 euro (US$376,000) range, which were originally stolen in Bulgaria.

The thieves used sophisticated tools that allowed them to make off with practically any car in under 60 seconds.

Once in the clear of any possible pursuit, the cars were given new vehicle identification numbers and chassis numbers, with documents stolen from other countries such as Austria, before being re-registered in the system. This allowed the criminals to mask the vehicles’ true origin and pass them off as legal to customs officers.

Upon delivery to Spain, the alleged members of the car theft ring earned between 30,000 ($32,000) and 40,000 euros ($43,000) for each item sold.

Investigators praised the professionalism of their adversaries, noting that it would take a very particular set of skills to successfully modify the vehicles’ identifying features. Some of the accused were even approached by other criminal rings due to their expertise, police said.

The network also had a logistics branch in Spain whose job was to register the vehicles so that they could even pass sales off as legitimate.

Along with the seven alleged members arrested, police seized multiple cars valued at approximately 350,000 euros ($376,000) each. Spanish and Bulgarian authorities are still working in collaboration to determine if any more vehicles can be recovered.