Bay Area Thieves Target Prius Batteries

Hybrid car batteries are becoming an increasingly popular target for thieves in the San Francisco area.

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Hybrid car batteries are becoming an increasingly popular target for thieves in the San Francisco area.

KGO-TV reports that the city's police department is aware of the trend, while a local Toyota dealership said it replaced "quite a few" stolen batteries from Prius models.

Local auto repair shops, meanwhile, are seeing a growing number of Prius drivers. They believe the culprits would need to be highly knowledgeable in order to steal a 120-pound battery in 20 minutes — without being electrocuted by the attached cables.

"It's a high-voltage wire and it's really dangerous if you know if you don't know what you're doing," Dot Choi from Pro Speed Auto Body Garage told the station.

One report speculated that hybrid battery demand could be rising as the earliest Prius models approach the end of their battery warranties, although it noted that thieves would need to alter the batteries in order to use them in older models.

New batteries cost about $3,000, but used batteries — such as the stolen ones — are available for up to $1,000 on classified ad website Craigslist.

Repairing the heavy damage sustained during battery thefts, on the other hand, could cost much more.

Reports said similar incidents affected hybrid drivers in Sacramento and Queens, but there's no indication the thefts are a nationwide trend.