No Slowdown on Theft of Prius Catalytic Converters in Eastie Neighborhoods

At Monday night’s Harbor View Neighborhood Association meeting, Boston Police Community Officer Tommy Dominico reported that catalytic converters are still being stolen at a record clip from Toyota Prius owners living in East Boston

The issue came to light last year when two catalytic converters were stolen on the same night in the Orient Heights section of the neighborhood with thieves making off with the expensive part in less than a minute.

“The issue of theft of catalytic converter converters from these vehicles is still ongoing,” said Dominico at Monday night’s meeting. “Before I left the station for this meeting there was a gentleman at the front desk reporting yet another theft so it is happening on a regular basis (in the neighborhood.”

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 that 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.

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.

Police urge residents to call 911 if they see someone at two or three o’clock in the morning underneath a vehicle as the crimes usually occur in the early morning hours.

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