Toyota Prius: Most Stolen Car in America?

2015 Toyota Prius pic-362296487971647730

Imagine the movie “Gone in 60 Seconds” with a Prius in place of the Shelby GT500.

Not very exciting, is it?

Car theft has been romanticized in movies and video games, but the reality is far less exciting. Cars are stolen every day in this country, and it happens in plain site at grocery stores, in home driveways, and in mass-transit parking lots.

Instead of targeting brash sports cars, thieves often go for the kinds of cars that blend in and are easily taken apart so in-demand parts can be sold. The traditional pièce de résistance of thieves is the Honda Accord, which fits those criteria perfectly.

There may, however, be a new king in town.

The Toyota Prius is becoming one of the most stolen cars in America. Here’s why:

The battery packs in many older Prius vehicles are approaching the end of their lifespans. They can cost upward of $3,000 to replace, so there’s a developing market for cheaper replacements. Thieves can take the Prius and remove the battery packs in as little as 20 minutes, then sell them for whatever they want, often about a thousand dollars.

Of course, victims are left either without a car or with a major repair bill to fix the mangled mess left behind.

HybridCars spoke with Luscious Garage, a shop in San Francisco that had a Gen 3 Prius in for repairs after having the battery pack stolen. They said,

‘They’ve broken the window here on the passenger window. They have cut the body harness; they have cut the main HV [high voltage] frame wire harness. Four 12-millimeter bolts later, this battery’s gone,’ said the spokesperson.

She estimated that to replace the broken window, damaged wiring and missing battery will cost between $5,000 and $9,000, depending on the extent of the damage and if replacement parts are new or used.

Those 12mm bolts can be replaced with tamper-resistant bolts, but the best ways to prevent theft altogether are to park in a garage whenever possible, always lock your doors, and to use a device like the the Club.

That’s pretty simple advice, but not everyone takes it, and the ones who don’t are the most at risk.

Have you ever had a car stolen?

-tgriffith

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2 Comments

  1. Our 2015 Prius was taken from the street in front of the house. It was found about 1 mile away 24 hours later. Nothing taken. It was locked. How is that possible.

  2. 2013 Prius C stolen right out of my driveway yesterday. No sign of broken glass, no missing keys, it was locked but didn’t have an alarm installed. Could someone have jacked open the window and hotwired it? Could a visitor have found my valet key in my bedroom drawer, gotten it copied, and used it to unlock and start the car? It didn’t get repossessed.

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