Last month, at least three Jamaica Plain residents reported to police that the catalytic converters from their Toyota Priuses were stolen. Similar crimes have been reported in other parts of the city like East Boston and greater Boston communities like Lynn and Medford.
A car’s catalytic converter acts to decrease the harmful chemicals in car emissions and the theft of these parts from Toyota Priuses are on the rise here and nationally.
Apparently thieves target these devices on the underside of cars because they contain valuable metals that act as oxidation catalysts and are mandated to reduce pollution.
The Prius catalytic converters contain platinum, palladium and rhodium and thieves can pocket up to $200 per converter and it takes only minutes for a skilled thief to cut it from underneath the car. All the thief needs is a reciprocal saw and a steady hand. Experts believe it takes 2 to 3 minutes to pull off the heist.
This type of crime has gotten so bad that online manufacturers sell metal plates to cover the catalytic converters, which make them more difficult to steal. Those parts are rarely covered by insurance and retail at around $440 installed. While they’re pricey they are cheaper than the cost to replace a stolen one. Even with insurance a replacement cost around $500. Without insurance, it could cost a Prius owner $3,000 or more to replace.
Many Prius owners have asked Toyota to recall Priuses and install the metal plates that should have been there to begin with to protect converters.
“I believe there have been three or four (thefts) citywide,” said Boston Police’s Dan Simons. “Those (catalytic converters) are valuable parts to thieves. If you see someone at two or three o’clock in the morning underneath a vehicle, and it looks like there’s another vehicle, maybe parked nearby still running, by all means call 911.”
Police are asking residents to try and park in well lit areas whenever possible or a garage.