It’s been a known recurring problem on Prius forums for a long time- the Prius PZEV catalytic converters are getting stolen because it has a REALLY high black market recycling value for its high palladium/platinum content, and its ease of removal. A skilled crew is less than 60 sec to jack it up, unbolt one side and cut the other, and be gone without attracting undue attention. Then it’s $800-$3000 to fix, and it’ll just be re-stolen. Any vehicle’s cats can get stolen, but the Prius (any year) is, by far, the most intense target. To a lesser extent, Honda hybrids and some other Toyota trucks.
The last couple of weeks saw an alarming surge of Prius cat thefts in Austin, they’re stealing every one, wherever they’re parked, the stories have been pouring in and the exhaust repair shops are overwhelmed. It’s quite brazen, like lit parking garages and parking lots, driveways, and of course the street.
There are 3 products on the market, the protection that seems to work is Cat Security (Gen-specific), $160 shipped on Amazon plus about $100 if you want to pay a muffler shop to install:
If you can’t afford that, you’re really not going to be able to afford the cat replacement. Followed by the next replacement when it gets stolen again, before finally putting down the $160 for the shield. I know $160 may seem impossible right now for some folks in these times, but this is going to happen that way.
If you have a Prius, I’d recommend you order the Cat Security now, and be really careful where you park it until you get it installed. But they’re not hard to install BTW. In fact if you want a side gig, installing shields may be a great non-contact business. About 30-45 min if you’ve done it before, and easy to bring a jack, jackstands, battery drill, and do on the street for anyone.
FYI if you have a gen1 or gen2 and the cat’s been stolen (really loud like a Harley as soon as the engine starts), you can safely skip the tow and drive it to the exhaust place to fix it (but don’t just keep driving it, whole lot of problems). But gen3 (2010+), DO NOT DRIVE AT ALL. The cooling system preheats with a loop around the cat, which thieves cut out. So, the coolant will dump, your engine will overheat within a few minutes and throw a “CHECK ENGINE LIGHT”, and then the head gasket will blow and the problem is suddenly far bigger. Must tow the gen3.