SAN DIEGO — Imagine walking out to the street in the morning and hearing something from underneath your car you’ve never heard before. That’s what happened over the weekend to Jason Folkman in North Park.
“Our Prius, which is one of the most silent cars in the neighborhood, made this enormous, loud noise. It became the loudest car in the neighborhood and so we knew something was wrong,” Folkman said.
Thieves ripped off Folkman’s catalytic converter on Saturday night.
The criminals target Prius vehicles because the converters are easy to remove and catalytic converters contain precious metals, like platinum, that can be recycled for money.
“This is going to cost us roughly around $4,000. We have to replace the catalytic converter, also the tail pile was damaged, and the O2 sensor was damaged,” said Folkman.
One solution is to install an anti-theft shield that rivets in place under the vehicle to make it harder for thieves to remove the catalytic converter.
“There is actually a movement to make Toyota pay for these shields because it’s such a rampant problem, but there has been no success with that,” said Folkman.
The cost of the shield, including installation, runs around $600.
“If you’re a Prius owner, you’re basically a sitting duck,” said Folkman. “I would install that shield as soon as possible, or park my car in the garage.”
Some Prius owners have reported getting hit by thieves multiple times.
A rise in the price of platinum appears to be driving the recent increase in catalytic converter thefts.