Thieves in the city of San Francisco are now targeting the battery packs of Toyota Prius hybrids.
According to the KGO-TV, the local ABC television affiliate in San Francisco, there has been a recent spate of robberies involving battery packs from Prius hatches.
Prius owner, John Nashed, told KGO-TV that when he returned to his vehicle recently, he discovered that the rear passenger window had been smashed in, the car messed up and its nickel-metal hydride battery gone. Nashed claims that at the local garage, where his Prius is currently awaiting new parts, he met an insurance assessor who is currently dealing with three similar incidents.
Nashed says that after his car was robbed, he checked out Craigslist and noted that a number of Prius batteries were on sale for between US$900 and US$1000 ($1130 and $1260).
Another area workshop also noted that it had just repaired a Prius, which had had its battery stolen.
Peter Zhang, a mechanic, believes that the robbers may be "professionals" because only someone with training would know how to remove the battery quickly from its mounting. Also, the thieves' removal process involves cutting a number of high voltage harnesses; a mistake here could provide a nasty 200V shock to the perpetrator.
Sources within the San Francisco police department told KGO-TV that they are now aware of a recent uptick in stolen batteries from the popular hybrid.
An unnamed local Toyota dealership is also reportedly aware of the recent spate of thefts and has replaced "quite a few" stolen batteries.