It used to be copper cabling that was stolen from local streets, but now daring thieves have turned their attention to taking manhole covers, drain covers and grids in a bid to get extra cash.
Town halls on the western Costa, including Mijas, Fuengirola, Benalmádena and Torremolinos, have found hundreds of these metal covers have been forcibly removed recently and members of the public are being asked to keep an eye out for the culprits.
While the thieves can sell for little more than an estimated one euro for every four kilos to unscrupulous scrap metal dealers, replacing each one is costing 200 to 300 euros, by the time the labour cost is taken into account and due to the fact that town halls are now buying more expensive theft-proof versions to replace them.
Although several councils are reporting incidents, Torremolinos has been particularly badly affected. Two hundred of the protective covers on the resort's water and sewage system have disappeared recently.
The council-owned water company says that total costs have reached 80,000 euros, adding that, "this money could be used for public services, cultural events or sport".
Council officials say that usually the thieves choose quiet areas and seem to wrench the grids and covers off by tying them to a car and pulling away at speed. Recently though, say reports, the thefts have been more daring in busier areas.
"It's dangerous for pedestrians but also for cars, motorbikes and bicycles," said officials in Torremolinos.
There's a similar story in neighbouring Benalmádena where Local Police have been put on alert and two weeks ago the local water company had to spend 3,000 euros on replacements.
Local people on the western Costa who spot anybody removing a drain cover or grid, or acting suspiciously, are being urged to call police on 112 and if possible note down the registration number of any vehicle involved.