Inventive, no doubt muscular thieves have found a new target.

What’s worse than somebody breaking into your car and stealing a purse or laptop? Try a thief ripping out the battery, rendering the vehicle into a sad, immovable magnet for parking tickets.

That’s what’s happening with hybrid cars around San Francisco, according to this report from ABC 7. After talking with a recent victim of theft, parking garages, and a Toyota dealership, the news station concludes the city is facing a spike in battery-ganking:

John Nashed’s Toyota Prius was broken into when he went to his parked car.

“The passenger rear window was broken into and I look inside and everything is just a mess,” Nashed said. “It looked like a tornado went through.”

A burglar made his way into the back of his car and stole the 150-pound battery that powers his engine. The car was towed to a garage for repairs. That’s when he learned there’s been a rash of Prius battery thefts in the city.

“There there was an Allstate insurance adjuster there and he’s like, wait a minute, I actually have three cases that I’m working on. Same exact problem,” Nashed said.

Via Twitter, Nashed says he hasn’t heard anything about the police finding a culprit and his insurance will be taking care of the repairs.

Removing hybrid batteries is a tactical challenge. There must be either multiple thieves or one, Dwayne Johnson-sized baddie, because the items are heavy enough to shred untrained back muscles. Then there’s the risk of accidentally going up like the Fourth of July. Toyota warns that improperly tinkering with a Prius high-voltage system can cause “serious injury or death from severe burns or electric shock.” (The batteries pack a punch of roughly 200 volts.)

Still, the payoff might make it worth it. Hybrid batteries are going on Craigslist for $500 to $1200—more than enough to acquire a lunch bag of meth or whatever is motivating Bay Area thieves these days. And there’s evidence criminals have known about hybrids’ valuable cargo for a while. Check out this January video from San Francisco’s Luscious Garage, outlining the anatomy of a battery heist (up to $9,000 in repairs!):

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    A Horrifying Glimpse Into Your Dystopian Future Transit Commute

    A comic artist’s take on what the future of transportation might really feel like.

  2. A cyclist rides on the bike lane in the Mid Market neighborhood during Bike to Work Day in San Francisco,
    Perspective

    Why Asking for Bike Lanes Isn't Smart

    In the 1930s big auto dreamed up freeways and demanded massive car infrastructure. Micromobility needs its own Futurama—one where cars are marginalized.

  3. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  4. Uber Eats worker
    Life

    The Millennial Urban Lifestyle Is About to Get More Expensive

    As WeWork crashes and Uber bleeds cash, the consumer-tech gold rush may be coming to an end.

  5. Two men look over city plans at a desk in an office.
    Equity

    The Doomed 1970s Plan to Desegregate New York’s Suburbs

    Ed Logue was a powerful agent of urban renewal in New Haven, Boston, and New York City. But his plan to build low-income housing in suburbia came to nought.

×