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Police: Thieves Targeting Prius Catalytic Converters In Recent Crime Spike

DAVIS (CBS13) — Priuses are popular with drivers but they are also becoming popular with thieves in Davis. There have been seven thefts in just over the last month, with many occurring near I-80 where thieves can get on and off the road quickly, police said.

Technology makes hybrid catalytic converters more emission compliant, and also more costly because of the precious metals inside.

"2001 and up are more desirable units," said Russ Docken with Hoffman Automotive in Davis.

Docken specializes in working on hybrid vehicles. He's not surprised to hear thieves are targeting them because they are made with precious metals including palladium, platinum, and rhodium.

"Trucks are using catalytic converters with less of these precious metals. They are getting smaller and smaller where Priuses are twice the size. More metals mean more money," Docken said.

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Some hybrids actually have two catalytic converters to meet emissions standards. Thieves can get about $200-$500 for them, but repairs to the electric or hybrid vehicle could run $3,000 to $5,000.

"When they do take units, they are not nice about it. They cut the sensors inside the catalytic converter and sometimes the wiring looms," said Docken.

Seven catalytic converters have been stolen in just over a month. Several of the thefts happened at hotels along I-80 and a couple in Davis at an apartment complex.

Davis police say it's hard to get fingerprints with these thefts because people don't realize there is a problem right away.

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Lt. Paul Doroshov with Davis Police said, "A lot are reported late because a lot of people don't realize it until they see the computerized warning."

That's why they are asking you to keep an eye out. To save yourself or your neighbor the hassle and the financial hurt.

"The 2005 year Prius models are very expensive. If there is damage to the catalytic converter, labor and materials may exceed what the car is worth," Docken said.

Please call Davis police if you have more info.

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