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Thieves Risk Their Lives For Toyota Prius Catalytic Converters

Catalytic converter theft is so bad now that the people stealing them are willing to risk their life for it.


According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's department, there has been a 400% increase in catalytic converter theft from 2019 to 2020. Now only three months into this year, we see record numbers of a robbery that could very well surpass the previous year.

Catalytic converter theft is continuing to reach new records all the time. The price of precious metals, especially Rhodium, has been the "catalyst" in all the crimes.

Reports of enormous gang rings that are contributing to organized crime are part of the issue. Now it appears these thieves will literally give up their lives to get their hands on them.

The death in Anaheim, California, is not unique, but it certainly has made the news. Other "cat burglars" have been squashed before. Until recently, with the massive spike in theft, if this happened, you probably would not hear about it.

Why This Is Such A Big Issue
I am even taking the time to report on this to portray what some people are willing to risk. Think of it this way. Would you be willing to risk your life to make anywhere from $5,000 or more a night stealing catalytic converters? Some people are. Money changes the way people act and think, and the death of this criminal proves that.

2014 Toyota Prius Getting Converter Stolen

I get it that these are hard times right now everywhere, but giving your life away for something like this is completely crazy. Not only that, but these thieves have also shot and killed the vehicle owners, which is beyond sad.

As a Prius owner and as an automotive professional, I urge people to do everything they can to get their cars protected. Park out of sight, have a better alarm system installed, etch your VIN on the converter or install high-level catalytic converter shields.

I hope that no one has to have their converter stolen. My heart goes out to anyone who has. If you need protection and are in a bad area, let me know, and I will see if I can help you get protected.

That is all for today. If I can help in any way, find me on Twitter @the_hybrid_guy. Check out why Toyota still has Prius in production.

Check out this wild new battery tech that Tesla has and why it will forever change the auto industry.

Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting. Read more of Peter's stories at Toyota news coverage on Torque News. Search Toyota Prius Torque News for more in depth Prius coverage from our reporters.


Margaret Andropoli (not verified)    March 18, 2021 - 7:51PM

My catalytic converter has actually been stolen twice! It was an absolute nightmare. Cops don't do anything about it, the first time I had it on video, nothing was done about it. It was humiliating driving around in it as I couldn't get it fixed as quick as I wanted to because it's very expensive. low life thieves stop at nothing! The parking on my block is absolutely insane! I hate leaving the house to come home and look for a spot, my catalytic converter was stolen twice within three months.

Andrew Woodall (not verified)    March 22, 2021 - 7:17AM

In reply to by Lee (not verified)

Yall are stupid all a cat does is have less restrictions in the exhaust and there for increasing horse power and increasing the mpg . Now with a preius ya already got 50 and 80 like really God darn momma don't strain yourself now. We down here in Mississippi use anything from 1980's and newer 2500 4x4 gas and diesel trucks and we cut those damn cats off ourselves and replace it with something called a flowmaster or a glass pack and it makes it sound good hell open headers are louder with nothing attached to shit . Take a awd preius and cut that muffler if you don't like the noise get a flowmaster 55 street it's literally a little louder that your muffler but sounds good. Dam democrats yall can't do shit for cars as for emissions get you a cat shell and bolt it up there who knows its fucking 20 bucks

Mary Williams (not verified)    March 19, 2021 - 6:01AM

In reply to by Margaret Andropoli (not verified)

My 2001 Prius was perfect ! Only 100k miles on the odometer until some scum bag got my cat converter. We paid$1200 for a muffler to cut down on the noise. Now we have to get rid of it because it won't pass smog. My Son and his friend had both their cat converters stolen.I wish Toyota would do something to prevent this from happening, and to stop putting their customers at the mercy of thieves.

Steve Senchuk (not verified)    March 19, 2021 - 8:04PM

In reply to by Mary Williams (not verified)

I am truly wondering how you could put the blame of this on the vehicle manufacturer. It's not like they mounted the converters on the rear hatch so everyone walking by could just brag them. These cars sit very close to the ground, making it difficult for anyone to cut off a converter. Now. If our Priuses sat like a 1975 Chev Blazer, I could see a major problem in every town and city in the world. Maybe, just maybe you live in a crime ridden area where drugs and gangs are not dealt with, possibly due to being under democratic control?

Troy (not verified)    March 20, 2021 - 6:10AM

In reply to by Steve Senchuk (not verified)

Obviously you show your intelligence while living under a republican way of life. You saying that it's a person's fault that they are victims due to where they live. That's the dumbest thing you could say. Do you know the definition of a victim. You don't blame the victim. I can guarantee that when they start hitting your neighborhood and yourself. You will agree with the that person is feeling and thinking. I hope they hit you everyday all day. This is not a time to try and divide with ignorance. If the manufacturers could change their process on rims they put on vehicles by putting wheel locks. Toyota can put converter locks on. Or people will stop buying Prius.

Jake U (not verified)    March 22, 2021 - 7:10PM

In reply to by Troy (not verified)

Dude, its a vehicle manufacturer. They are not gonna spend that amount of money of engineering to come up with a design when it is not a widespread issue except in crime ridden areas. So I believe in these situations since of course a person can not control what someone else does, they can then only control what they have power over which is THEMSELVES. So you see sometimes you have to take action yourself, you can control where you live? You can control what alarms and sensors your vehicle has ( shock, proximity, etc) you can control what weapons you possess to protect yourself when these systems notify you. Where this country could actually be if everyone relied on themselves instead of the system.

Dumbass (not verified)    March 28, 2021 - 1:58AM

In reply to by Jake U (not verified)

Some people cant afford to move and unfortunately for me i checked the laws, if i killed the thief or harmed him i would get charged with assault or manslaughter. If i had it my way id mix ammonia and bleach, put in a glass bottle and rig it to drop and break if anyone walked down my street...but i feel like there would be a lot of dead mailmen...and amazon drivers...and just people in general. 200 PPM is lethal and 1 galon amonia makes like 1000 PPM. #donttakeourgunsandchemicalweapons #republicansarenazis #trumpisosamabinladen

Jacob umland (not verified)    March 22, 2021 - 7:02PM

In reply to by Mary Williams (not verified)

Lol because it wouldn't matter. You can pull a cat off any vehicle. Me personally I would rather steal them off pickup trucks, a lot faster in and out from underneath the vehicle. And yea I agree with them up there, cats are boring anyway you want loud pipes. Loud pipes save lives. Facts.

B.Pate (not verified)    March 19, 2021 - 6:07AM

In reply to by Margaret Andropoli (not verified)

Sorry about your exhaust theif,..this is why I don't live in the big cities anymore! out in the country where "NO" one messes with you & none of this senseless garbage goes on.,... Again sorry.

Joe G. (not verified)    March 19, 2021 - 10:09AM

In reply to by Margaret Andropoli (not verified)

- Is there a catalytic converter shield template available?
- What makes Prius' catalytic converter so prized among these thieves? What about all other brands and makes? They also have catalytic converters, right?
- Stop police defunding! That only feeds more criminal acts!

Catty Cat (not verified)    March 22, 2021 - 1:16PM

In reply to by Joe G. (not verified)

Prius are targeted because they have a fuel saving technology in which the metals in the cat stay in good shape longer. ..and there's so many Prius's out there they are bait for thieves. Would be funny to stage Priuses around high theft areas, fill the cat pipes with oil, glitter bombs, feces or whatever and get these fools back who are thieving. No mercy for thieving bastards

Lee Nejtek (not verified)    March 22, 2021 - 8:01PM

In reply to by Catty Cat (not verified)

AC voltage connected to car on rubber tires will give them food for thought, even better if ground is wet...Time People quit being sheep, time to return the favors to the criminals in this country....This liberal share the wealth bullshit has to change,,,,,, Linerals move these criminals into your own homes, put there name on Your own bank accounts, keep it for your own pet, and keep it fed !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Margaret Andropoli (not verified)    March 18, 2021 - 7:53PM

My catalytic converter has actually been stolen twice! It was an absolute nightmare. Cops don't do anything about it, the first time I had it on video, nothing was done about it. It was humiliating driving around in it as I couldn't get it fixed as quick as I wanted to because it's very expensive. low life thieves stop at nothing! The parking on my block is absolutely insane! I hate leaving the house to come home and look for a spot, my catalytic converter was stolen twice within three months. By the way I have a 2007 Toyota Prius. Meanwhile the low lives are probably reading this and will probably just steal it from a of somewhere else. What a world we live in

Kja (not verified)    March 19, 2021 - 10:21PM

In reply to by Margaret Andropoli (not verified)

The low life thief is not really the issue. Its the top level thief that deal in precious metal. Those buyers are the ones buying at cheap prices an they know that they are buying stolen goods. Have the politicians in your cities and state make them show and prove where they are buying their precious metals from. I’ll bet you the demand will dry up and everything would go back to normal. The street thief Is low on the totem pole and not the issue.

Sean Stanton (not verified)    March 22, 2021 - 12:24PM

In reply to by Kja (not verified)

Probably shipping them to Mexico. The Mexican border agents probably don't give a crap or on the take. Going down the road just looks like a truckload of scrap.

Karen (not verified)    March 20, 2021 - 9:21AM

In reply to by Margaret Andropoli (not verified)

My catalytic converter was stolen last month. I have a 2007 as well, older models such as ours have more usable precious metals for some reason. Luckily I had comprehensive coverage. Still had to pay around 1000, including 500 for a shield, plus car rental, dinged my tow allowance, hassle, and file a police report. This happened in a well lit carport in front of a condo, in a small town. Thieves swoop in from out of town possibly and can have it stolen in minutes. Can happen anywhere.

Jeremy Moore (not verified)    March 18, 2021 - 8:55PM

It would suck to get one stolen. But there really are cheap replacements for most cars on ebay. I had to replace a bad one on my Matrix... $1300 from Toyota, and $200 on ebay... that's a one big piece from the cat to the muffler. There are $100 cats that a muffler shop will install for maybe $80 depending on how the theif cut your cat off

k (not verified)    March 19, 2021 - 1:19PM

In reply to by Jeremy Moore (not verified)

The only California SMOG compliant cat is the OEM one, so if you live in CA and it gets stolen, it is pricy to get it replaced. Mine wasn't stolen, but needed to be replaced - I ended up finding a shop that used salvaged parts and it cost a little less than half of what it would have with a new one.

Stu Rhodes (not verified)    March 22, 2021 - 9:37AM

In reply to by Engr. (K.D.) G… (not verified)

That's not what I'm saying. I am saying when people come in with a catalytic converter they have to prove that it belongs to them either by the vehicle they are disposing of, a vehicle registration or some other means. The numbers on the catalytic converters easily cross over to the type of vehicle and years it came from. The restricted metal laws also include air conditioning condensers, evaporator cores, and other items..