Toyota Priuses latest target of Chicago catalytic converter thieves

Sarah Schulte Image
Monday, October 31, 2022
Toyota Priuses latest target of catalytic converter thefts
EMBED <>More Videos

Catalytic converter thieves are targeting the Toyota Prius, leaving dozens of cars waiting for new parts in Chicago.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Victory Toyota of Midtown in Chicago has more than a dozen Priuses lined up like a used car lot, but they're not for sale; they're waiting to have their catalytic converters replaced after the old ones wer stolen.

"Given today, we've had five come in for the same thing, catalytic converters just being sawed off," said David Meraz, owner.

So many hare stolen the dealership can't keep up with demand. Meraz said the wait for manufacturers to send parts can take months.

RELATED: Skokie police hand out catalytic converter alarms to prevent theft

"My longest vehicle has been here for nine months," he said.

When his Prius started up sounding like a tractor, John Roberts knew exactly the problem; his catalytic converter has been stolen twice in the past year from right in front of his home.

"The first time it took me three weeks before they could find a catalytic converter, now I don't even know how long it's going to take. It may be two months, that is what we are looking at right now," he said.

Roberts said he has parked his car on the street for nine years with no issues until this year. Mechanics and insurance agents are busy.

"Illinois is currently the third highest state in catalytic converters thefts just behind Texas and California, which is pretty significant because those are two very large states," said State Farm agent Greg Jareczek.

Because it's a hybrid vehicle, mechanics say Priuses are targets because their catalytic converters contain more unused precious metals. Shields and etching a VIN number on the catalytic converter can be deterrents to theft, but no guarantee.

"Maybe what I need to do is get a different car," said Roberts. "That's what the police told me."

If your car does end up in a lot waiting for a new part, insurance agents say you should make sure your policy includes comprehensive coverage, as that covers things like vandalism and theft.