Just before New Years Eve an Orient Heights resident awoke to a loud noise outside his home.
“I heard a loud noise, looked outside and didn’t see anything,” said the residents who will remain nameless.
The next morning when he started his Toyota Prius he realized someone had stolen his catalytic converter.
“It was so fast within 10-20 seconds,” he said. “They also got another resident who lives right near me.”
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 two to three 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 is around $500. Without insurance, it could cost a Prius owner $3,000 or more to replace.
It has gotten so bad that 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.
“Yeah, we did get one theft recently in East Boston and I believe like three or four citywide,” said District A-7 Community Officer Dan Simons. “The report I saw that was recorded in the last few days was that somebody went out and realized that their catalytic converter was taken. He realized this because the car was making a loud noise like a muscle car. Those 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.”