For years, Honda’s Accord has been one of the most stolen cars in the United States, and not the new ones either, nineties models are a hot commodity on the theft scene. In certain cities, cars are stolen on a daily basis, chopped up, and sold for parts. However, one car remains remarkably low on the stolen cars list year after year; the Toyota Prius. The Prius may be a popular item for drivers across the country, but for some reason, it remains one of the least stolen cars.
The theft rate for other car models is approximately one of every model, which means if there are eighty of the same car in one lot, one of them will be stolen. For the Prius, that rate is 1 of 606. If a Prius is stolen, it has a high rate of capture and returns by police; nearly 100 per cent of stolen hybrid vehicles are found and brought back to the owners. A Prius between 2008 and 2010 model years has been called virtually theft-proof, but why is this phenomenon happening?
Speculation says that the Prius just isn’t as popular as the Accord, but there have been over one million Prius models sold in the U.S. over the years since it released. Just over two thousand of them have been stolen. It’s not a well-kept secret that the Prius is a monster hybrid with gas mileage on a good day going as high as 55MPG. Apparently, car thieves aren’t big on great gas mileage, especially considering that they just plan to take the most valuable internal parts. Surprisingly, hybrids, in general, are very low on the list when it comes to stolen cars.
A theory surrounding the bizarrely low theft numbers is that there isn’t a high volume market for Prius parts. As a rule, an older car can be chopped up and sold for parts. Typically, the majority of those parts can find homes in other vehicles, especially vehicles by the same automaker. However, because this Toyota hybrid is such a differently designed vehicle with specific parts that don’t exist in other cars, there just isn’t the same demand for these parts. The fact that they cannot be used in any other car than a Prius makes the parts and the car itself far less marketable than it should be. As a result, there are less stolen Prius models.
Some experts say that the reason that the Prius is so low on the most-stolen list is that it just isn’t that desirable yet. There aren’t enough of them on the roads to generate interest in the parts, and they’re so particularly designed that most people are intimidated by the hassle of fencing the parts. As the Prius’ popularity continues to grow over time, does this then raise the threat associated with having one stolen? When we reach the point at which the threat becomes very real, will the return rate by police be the same as it is now?
While the Prius itself isn’t widely known as a stolen car, there is a certain plague that is hurting owners of this hybrid monster. Prius battery pack thefts have been on the rise as of late, and speculation says it is because owners of the first generation are nearing the end of their battery lives and warranties, thus raising the demand for this specific item. Another thing attractive about the battery pack is that it is easily accessible and easily stolen. In recent incidences, it looks as though the thieves are breaking the back windows, reaching in, disconnecting the battery pack in about twenty minutes, and walking away. In a market where a new Prius battery can go for $3K, there does seem to be a hefty black market value for these prized possessions.
Hopefully, as the Prius continues to reign over the hybrid competition and hold the distinction of being one of the first, they don’t become more of a popular target for thieves. In an ideal world, car theft would go away and nobody’s cars would be a target anymore, but this isn’t an ideal world. If you live in a city with a high rate of auto theft, maybe the Prius is a good choice.